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THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

from  the 
Letters  and  Papers  of  William  JET.  Herndon 


ABRAHAM  LINCOLN 

This  Portrait  Is  Reproduced  from  a  Brady  Photograph  (1864)  in  the 
War  Department  Collection;  Courtesy  of  the  Signal  Corps,  U.  S.  Army 


THE    HIDDEN 

LINCOLN 


FROM  THE  LETTERS  AND  PAPERS  OF 

William  H.  Herndon 


EMANUEL    HERTZ 


BLUE  RIBBON  BOOKS,  INC.     :    NEW  YORK 


194O 
BI/CJE     K.IBJBO3ST     BOOK1S, 


CJLr 

COPYRIGHT    1938    BY    THE    VUKXNG    JPJEtESS,    IONTC. 

zjsr   TECE   "cnNTXEr*    STATES    OF 


TO     THE     MEMORT 
OF 

WILLIAM   H.   HERNDON 


lawyer,  abolitionist,  and  patriot,  whose  one  object  in  life  was  to  reveal 

Lincoln  to  the  American  people  as  he  knew  him,  from  the  slave  market 

in  New  Orleans  to  Gettysburg  and  from  Clary  Grove 

to  the  second  inaugural. 


THE     STRUGGLES     OF     THIS     AGE     AND     SUCCEEDING     AGES     FOR     GOD 

AND      MAN RELIGION,      HUMANITY,      AND      LIBERTY,      WITH      THEIR 

COMPLEX      AND       GRAND       RELATIONS MAY       THEY       TRIUMPH      AND 

CONQUER     FOREVER     IS     MY     ARDENT     WISH     AND     MOST 
FERVENT     SOUL-PRAYER. FEB.     23,     1858. ** 

(From  the  inscription  on  Herndon's  tombstone) 


Foreword 


To  say  that  our  people  owe  a  great  debt  to  Mr.  Hertz  for  his  patient 
and  untiring  study  of  everything  which  relates  to  the  life  and  work 
of  Abraham  Lincoln  is  only  to  state  the  obvious.  The  material  here 
produced  from  the  Herndon  letters  is  rich  indeed.  These  records  are 
intimate,  informal,  and  most  revealing. 

The  curious  combination  of  simplicity  and  richness  which  consti- 
tuted Abraham  Lincoln's  character  gets  new  evidence  for  its  fuller 
understanding  from  what  is  here  written.  One  would  think  that  to  say 
anything  new  about  Lincoln  had  long  since  become  impossible,  but  it 
certainly  is  practicable,  as  Mr.  Hertz  has  shown,  to  discover  and  to 
interpret  new  material  concerning  one  of  the  best-known  personali- 
ties in  modern  public  life. 

NICHOLAS  MURRAT  BUTI/EB, 


Contents 

FOREWORD  BY  DR.  NICHOLAS  MURRAY  BUTLER  vii 

THE  ORIGINAL  HERNDON  LETTERS  8 
PART  ONE:  LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON 

I,            JANUARY    1866— NOVEMBER    1868  29 

H.         FEBRUARY    1869— JANUARY     1874  57 

HI.        OCTOBER    1881— MARCH    1887  84} 

IV.  APRIL    1887— OCTOBER    1887  183 

V.  OCTOBER    1887— FEBRUARY    1891  £10 

PART  Two :  EVIDENCES 

I.  LETTERS  TO  HERNDON 

II.  STATEMENTS  COLLECTED  BY  HERNDON  345 

m.     HERNDON'S  NOTES  AND  MONOGRAPHS  895 

APPENDIX:  A  POEM  BY  LINCOLN  447 

INDEX  455 


Illustrations 

Abraham  Lincoln  (1864)  Frontispiece 

William  H.  Herndon  52 

Herndon's  Correspondents :  Arnold,  Hart  53 

Facsimile  of  a  Letter  to  Lamon  facing  page       60 

Abraham  Lincoln  (1858)  82 

Herndon's    Correspondents :    Whitney,    Bartlett,    Weik, 

Lamon  83 

Lincoln's  Law  Partners  and  Early  Friends :  Stuart,  Logan, 

Speed,  Matheny  210 

Political  Advisers  of  Lincoln:  Swett,  White,  Davis,  Judd       211 

Stephen  A.  Douglas  242 

Lincoln's  Notebooks  243 

Political  Cartoons  by  L.  H.  Stephens  274 

Political  Cartoons  by  L.  H.  Stephens  275 

John  Hanks  346 

Dennis  Hanks  346 

Mary  Todd  Lincoln  347 

Abraham  Lincoln  (1865)  362 

Facsimile  of  a  Page  of  "Big  Me55  363 


THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 


INTRODUCTION 


The  Original  Herndon  Letters 

FOR  a  thousand  years  and  more  it  was  customary  in  the  city  of 
Rome  for  builders  of  important  structures  to  take  their  build- 
ing materials  from  the  Colosseum  without  any  interference  on  the 
part  of  the  city  authorities.  Until  the  Colosseum  was  finally  made  safe 
by  law  from  further  destruction,  practically  every  important  new 
building  in  Rome  contained  part  of  it.  Similarly  the  Lincoln  docu- 
ments gathered  and  prepared  by  William  H.  Herndon  in  the  sixties 
of  the  last  century  have  been  used  for  seventy  years  as  the  foundation 
stones  of  later  biographies.  Every  biographer  from  that  day  to  this 
has  either  consulted  Herndon  in  person  or  relied  on  letters  or  writings 
left  by  him. 

The  first  biographers  all  saw  or  consulted  Herndon  before  they 
did  any  of  Lincoln's  other  associates.  William  Dean  Howells*  for  his 
campaign  biography  of  1860  and  1864},  referred  to  Herndon  for  facts 
on  Lincoln's  life  in  Springfield.  Holland  rushed  to  consult  Herndon 
after  the  President's  assassination  in  order  to  prepare  the  first  Life 
of  Lincoln.  Arnold  in  order  to  write  his  book  haggled  with  Herndon 
over  the  purchase  of  the  latter*  s  papers,  though  in  that  book  he  does 
not  mention  Herndon  in  his  preface  or  otherwise  acknowledge  his 
indebtedness.  Lamon  purchased  copies  of  Herndon's  papers  and 
turned  them  over  to  Chauncey  F.  Black,  who  was  thus  enabled  to  write 
"their"  book ;  while  he  was  writing  the  book,  Black  wrote  as  many  as 
seventy-five  letters  to  Herndon,  and  Herndon  always  helped.  Nicolay 
and  Hay  both  borrowed  from  Herndon,  but  made  no  mention  of  him, 
perhaps  because  they  feared  the  displeasure  of  Robert  T.  Lincoln, 
whose  private  papers  were  the  most  important  source  of  material  for 
their  voluminous  work.  Ida  M.  Tarbell  quoted  Herndon's  conclusions 
— she  could  not  help  doing  so,  honest  and  painstaking  biographer  that 
she  is.  As  for  Jesse  W.  Weik,  all  he  ever  did  was  to  quote  Herndon ; 
the  voice  was  the  voice  of  Weik,  but  the  facts  were  the  facts  of 
Herndon.  When  Weik  finally  wrote  his  own  book,  it  was  based  on  what 

he  had  found  in  the  Herndon  treasure  trove,  which  he  had  purchased 

3 


4  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

or  rather  inherited  from  the  feeble  and  moribund  Herndon.  Beveridge 
was  completely  controlled  by  the  notes  gathered  by  Herndon  and 
owned  by  Weik,  and  the  first  volume  of  his  book  (in  which  there  are 
752  references  to  Herndon  documents)  is  based  almost  entirely  on 
what  he  found  in  these  manuscripts.  Sandburg  in  his  two-volume  bi- 
ography refers  to  Herndon  ninety-four  times.  Charnwood,  while  he 
did  not  consult  Herndon,  used  a  digest  of  all  the  consultations  of 
others. 

Raymond,  Barrett,  Leland,  Rothschild,  Stoddard,  Hapgood,  all 
knew  and  quoted  Herndon.  Barton  pleaded  with  Weik  to  be  permitted 
to  see  Herndon's  original  papers,  but  failed  to  get  them.  The  good- 
natured  and  accommodating  Herndon  was  dead — and  Weik  was  not 
so  accommodating.  Charles  H.  Hart  wrote  to  Herndon,  and  gathered 
a  fine  series  of  letters  covering  a  great  many  phases  of  Lincoln's  life, 
but  he  never  published  them.  Many  of  Herndon's  letters  appeared  in 
newspapers  in  response  to  the  requests  for  information  by  various 
persons.  For  twenty-five  years,  to  the  very  last  day  of  his  life,  Herndon 
unselfishly  gave  himself,  his  strength,  his  limited  substance,  and  prac- 
tically all  his  time,  first  to  the  writing  out  of  all  he  knew  and  all  he 
remembered  of  his  famous  partner,  and  then  to  the  gathering  of  the 
material  which  was  to  be  the  foundation  of  every  biography  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln  thereafter. 

Immediately  after  the  assassination  of  Lincoln,  the  great  effusion 
of  sorrow  at  his  untimely  and  tragic  death,  the  belated  realization  of 
the  martyred  President's  supreme  service  to  the  nation,  provided  an 
atmosphere  in  which  all  the  enormous  quantity  of  living  material  on 
his  life  and  character  then  available  could  easily  have  been  brought 
together.  Yet  nothing  was  done,  either  by  Congress  or  by  Lincoln's 
influential  and  literary  friends,  to  gather  such  valuable  but  perishable 
biographical  contributions.  As  a  result,  a  definitive  Life  of  Lincoln  is 
still  a  dream  unfulfilled,  and  a  natural  hesitation  in  revealing  certain 
aspects  of  Lincoln's  life  has  hardened  into  a  policy  of  secrecy.  Aside 
from  a  few  superficial  books  written  for  special  purposes,  nothing  of 
biographical  importance  took  place  until  thirty  years  had  passed, 
when  Nicolay  and  Hay  prepared  their  series  of  articles  for  the  Century 
Magazine.  And  in  that  time  it  had  become  all  but  impossible  to  permit 
the  discussion  of  some  of  the  information  supplied  by  Lincoln's  con- 
temporaries. 


THE     ORIGINAL     HERNDON     BETTERS  5 

There  was  one  man  in  Springfield,  however,  who,  when  he  returned 
from  Lincoln's  funeral,  determined  to  dedicate  the  rest  of  his  life  to 
the  task  of  gathering  all  the  material  that  would  be  necessary  for  the 
definitive  biography  of  his  lifelong  friend,  law  partner,  and  political 
leader.  William  H.  Herndon  knew  that  with  the  passage  of  time  the 
recollections  of  persons  who  had  known  Lincoln  would  acquire  a  su- 
perlative value.  He  began  by  setting  down  everything  he  himself  knew 
about  Lincoln  from  a  daily  contact  of  twenty  years ;  then  he  talked  to 
others  in  Springfield  who  had  known  Lincoln,  thus  supplementing  and 
verifying  his  own  recollections  of  Lincoln  the  husband,  the  father,  the 
lawyer  traveling  over  the  Eighth  Circuit  and  pleading  in  the  higher 
courts,  the  spinner  of  yarns,  the  member  of  the  State  Legislature  and 
of  Congress,  the  political  rival  of  Douglas,  the  candidate  for  the 
Presidency  of  the  United  States — of  Lincoln  up  to  February  12, 1861, 
when  he  left  Springfield  for  the  last  time.  Referring  to  the  sign  **Lin- 
coln  and  Herndon,"  Lincoln  had  then  said,  with  a  significant  lowering 
of  his  voice :  "Let  it  hang  there  undisturbed.  Give  our  clients  to  under- 
stand that  the  election  of  a  President  makes  no  difference  in  the  firm. 
If  I  live,  Fm  coming  back  some  time,  and  then  we'll  go  right  on  prac- 
ticing as  if  nothing  had  happened."  He  lingered  for  a  moment  and 
then  passed  into  the  narrow  hallway — never  to  return. 

Herndon  prepared  a  list  of  names  of  people  outside  Springfield  who 
might  from  personal  acquaintance  have  known  any  facts  about  Lin- 
coln's life  from  the  day  of  his  birth  until  the  day  of  his  death  that 
might  have  escaped  his  own  memory  and  researches.  He  visited  Lin- 
coln's relatives  in  Kentucky,  Indiana,  and  Illinois  and  obtained  from 
them  statements  which  he  reduced  to  writing.  He  did  the  same  with  Lin- 
coln's early  neighbors,  the  tradespeople  with  whom  he  had  dealt,  the 
women  he  had  met,  and  the  girls  he  had  courted.  In  pursuit  of  his  clues 
Herndon  corresponded  with  men  and  women  all  over  the  Union,  track- 
ing some  of  them  down  to  the  most  distant  points,  and  eliciting  from 
former  associates  and  friends  testimony  of  so  intimate  a  quality  that 
the  real  Lincoln  is  made  to  live  in  their  letters.  Herndon  sent  them  a 
series  of  precise  questions,  and  persisted  with  additional  letters  until 
all  his  questions  had  been  answered. 

Turning  next  to  Lincoln's  professional  life  Herndon  proceeded  to 
interview,  and  to  prepare  the  records  and  recollections  of,  the  judges 
before  whom  Lincoln  had  practiced.  These  recollections  were  either 


t>  THE    HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

written  by  the  judges  themselves  or  by  Herndon  at  their  dictation.  He 
then  hunted  up  the  lawyers  with  whom  Lincoln  had  practiced  at  the 
bar — scores  of  them — and  subjected  them  to  the  same  procedure. 
There  are  reminiscences  of  lawyers  who  rode  the  circuit  with  Lincoln, 
who  heard  from  his  own  lips  the  story  of  his  life  and  listened  to  his 
tales  before  the  fires  of  wayside  taverns.  Herndon  looked  up  the  lead- 
ing politicians  with  whom  Lincoln  had  worked  and  whom  he  had  met, 
and  no  other  public  man  had  known  so  many  politicians,  North  and 
South,  as  had  Lincoln.  He  consulted  the  Long*  Nine  and  the  other 
members  of  the  Legislature  with  whom  Lincoln  had  served  during  his 
five  terms.  He  gathered  also  the  statements  of  Lincoln's  political  op- 
ponents. He  was  not  looking  for  eulogy — he  was  looking  for  facts. 

Until  1888  Herndon  gave  practically  all  his  time  to  this  work  of 
assiduous  research;  that  year  he  finally  made  up  his  mind  that  a 
Life  of  Lincoln  must  be  written  then  if  he  was  ever  to  write  one  at  all. 
His  critics  have  been  quick  to  emphasize  the  fact  that  he  began  to  write 
his  biography  nearly  twenty-three  years  after  Lincoln's  death.  That 
he  lectured  on  Lincoln  in  the  years  1866-1870,  composed  newspaper 
articles,  and  wrote  hundreds  of  letters  in  answer  to  the  inquiries  of  all 
the  other  biographers  should  certainly  annul  whatever  impugning 
of  Herndon's  motives  is  intended  by  this  charge  of  undue  delay.  That 
Herndon's  letters  to  interested  persons  are  all  consistent  with  each 
other,  and  tell  the  same  facts,  over  a  period  of  twenty-three  years, 
should  certainly  remove  the  doubt  that  this  lapse  of  time  casts  upon 
the  reliability  of  his  memoirs.  Nicolay  and  Hay  took  longer  to  write 
their  book,  and  they  were  affluent,  and  did  not  face  the  struggle  for 
existence  or  make  the  sacrifices  Herndon  made ;  but  to  them  it  was 
accounted  a  virtue  that  they  did  not  rush  immediately  into  print  but 
waited  long  enough  to  gain  the  proper  perspective,  part  of  which  in- 
deed they  gained  from  Herndon's  lectures  and  letters  and  from  the 
facts  Herndon  had  supplied  for  Ward  Lamon's  book.  Herndon's  con- 
clusions were  based  upon  a  vast  amount  of  evidence  painstakingly 
collected  and  carefully  studied  for  a  score  of  years ;  he  had  the  right 
to  feel  that  he  was  now  fitted  to  write  the  biography  of  his  friend. 

On  the  period  of  Lincoln's  life  before  he  left  for  Washington  in  1861 
Herndon  stands  alone  as  a  biographical  authority.  It  is  conceded  by 
almost  all,  no  matter  how  grudgingly  by  soine,  that  without  Hern- 
don's  records  no  complete  life  of  Lincoln  is  possible.  Yet  there  has 


THE     ORIGINAL     HE&NDON     LETTERS  7 

been  a  curious  unwillingness  to  allow  to  Herndon  the  credit  for  what 
he  has  done,  almost  a  conspiracy  to  keep  from  historians  such  of 
Herndon's  researches  as  would  seem  to  be  necessary  for  a  truthful  and 
complete  history  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  Herndon  himself  cared  for  no 
acknowledgment ;  he  freely  gave  of  himself,  his  time,  and  his  substance 
to  whoever  expressed  an  interest  in  Lincoln's  real  life ;  and  the  sole 
purpose  of  his  own  life  was  to  tell  the  true  story  of  Lincoln's. 

If  we  examine  every  Lincoln  biography  of  importance  down  to 
Beveridge's  incomplete  effort,  we  find  no  proper  credit  given  to  Hern- 
don for  what  he  did.  Even  Beveridge,  while  he  praises  Herndon's  zeal 
and  outstanding  achievement  in  unmeasured  terms,  does  not  trouble 
to  quote  Herndon's  conclusions ;  he  simply  cites  such  excerpts  from 
Herndon's  statements  as  suit  his  purposes. 

In  the  early  seventies  Ward  H.  Lamon  decided  to  write  a  Life  of 
his  friend  and  chief.  Aside  from  Herndon,  Lincoln  had  no  closer  or 
more  loyal  friend  and  admirer  than  Lamon,  his  constant  confidant, 
first  as  a  partner  on  the  circuit  and  then  during  Lincoln's  entire  stay 
in  Washington.  Lamon  gathered  the  facts,  wrote  to  many  people  who 
had  known  Lincoln  in  Washington,  obtained  their  opinions  in  the  form 
of  letters,  and  then  turned  all  these  over  to  Chauncey  F.  Black,  his 
literary  collaborator.  Black  was  a  more  congenial  associate  to  Lamon 
than  Weik  was  to  be  to  Herndon,  and  he  sought  to  save  as  much 
of  Herndon's  data  as  possible.  Lamon  therefore  persuaded  Herndon 
to  sell  him  some  of  his  collected  materials. 

"Early  in  1869,"  says  Lamon,  "Mr.  Herndon  placed  at  my  disposal 
his  remarkable  collection  of  materials — the  richest,  rarest,  and  fullest 
collection  it  was  possible  to  conceive.  Along  with  them  came  an  offer 
of  hearty  co-operation,  of  which  I  have  availed  myself  extensively, 
that  no  art  of  mine  would  serve  to  conceal  it.  Added  to  my  collections, 
these  acquisitions  have  enabled  me  to  do  what  could  not  have  been 
done  before — prepare  an  authentic  biography  of  Mr.  Lincoln. 

"Mr.  Herndon  had  been  the  partner  in  business  and  the  intimate 
personal  associate  of  Mr.  Lincoln  for  something  like  a  quarter  of  a 
century ;  and  Mr.  Lincoln  had  lived  familiarly  with  several  members 
of  his  family  long  before  their  individual  acquaintance  began.  New 
Salem,  Springfield,  the  old  judicial  circuit,  the  habits  and  friends  of 
Mr.  Lincoln,  were  as  well  known  to  Mr.  Herndon  as  to  himself.  With 
these  advantages,  and  from  the  numberless  facts  and  hints  which  had 


8  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

dropped  from  Mr.  Lincoln  during  the  confidential  intercourse  of  an 
ordinary  lifetime,  Mr.  Herndon  was  able  to  institute  a  thorough  sys- 
tem of  inquiry  for  every  noteworthy  circumstance  and  every  incident 
of  value  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  career. 

"The  fruits  of  Mr.  Herndon's  labors  .  .  .  comprise  the  recollec- 
tions of  Mr.  Lincoln's  nearest  friends ;  of  the  surviving  members  of  his 
family  and  his  family-connections ;  of  the  men  still  living  who  knew 
him  and  his  parents  in  Kentucky ;  of  his  school  fellows,  the  whole  pop- 
ulation of  New  Salem ;  of  his  associates  and  relatives  at  Springfield ; 
and  of  lawyers,  judges,  politicians,  and  statesmen  everywhere,  who 
had  anything  of  interest  or  moment  to  relate.  .  .  .  They  were  col- 
lected at  vast  expense  of  time,  labor,  involving  the  employment  of 
many  agents,  long  journeys,  tedious  examinations,  and  voluminous 
correspondence." 

But  the  Life  that  Black  wrote  for  Lamon  was  not  what  was  finally 
printed  as  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln.  Judge  David  Davis  and  Leonard 
Swett  prevailed  upon  Lamon  to  bring  his  manuscript  to  Chicago,  and 
there  took  place  an  incident  which  it  is  fortunate  that  we  have  Horace 
White  to  confirm : 

"The  book  was  nearly  ready  for  publication  and  Lamon  had  sub- 
mitted the  page  proofs  to  Swett  and  Davis  for  their  criticism.  They 
found  in  it  a  chapter  showing  or  arguing  that  Lincoln  was  not  the  son 
of  Thomas  Lincoln,  his  reputed  father,  but  of  some  other  man.  In  short 
that,  although  born  in  wedlock,  he  was  really  illegitimate.  They  (S. 
and  D.)  were  horrified.  They  got  Lamon  into  a  room,  locked  the  door, 
and  kept  him  there  nearly  a  whole  afternoon,  trying  to  force  him  to 
take  that  chapter  out  of  the  book,  and  they  succeeded  after  great 
difficulty.  Swett  did  not  tell  me  what  proofs  Lamon  advanced  to  sup- 
port his  statement  but  he  said  that  they  were  prima  facie  strong." 

Again  according  to  Horace  White,  "Swett  said  that  he  and  Davis 
got  Lamon  into  a  private  room  and  labored  with  him  half  a  day  to 
get  the  matter  stricken  out;  that  Lamon  was  very  obstinate,  con- 
tended that  it  was  no  discredit  to  Lincoln  but  rather  creditable  than 
otherwise,  since  he  had  risen  so  high  from  such  a  lowly  origin,  etc., 
etc. ;  but  finally  they  did  succeed  in  getting  the  worst  part  of  the 
matter  stricken  out.  My  recollection  is  that  Swett  told  me  this  on  the 
very  day  that  he  and  Davis  had  the  interview  with  Lamon.  At  ali 
events  it  was  at  very  nearly  the  same  time." 


THE     ORIGINAL     HERNDON     LETTERS  9 

When  Herndon  finally  decided  to  publish  his  own  book,  he  retained 
the  services  of  young  Jesse  W.  Weik  as  a  collaborator  in  the  actual 
writing.  Herndon,  in  Springfield,  sent  Weik,  in  Greencastle,  Indiana, 
a  rough  draft  of  each  chapter,  to  be  given  more  elegant  literary  form. 
Some  of  these  drafts  were  complete  monographs ;  some  were  merely 
contained  in  series  of  letters  written  to  Weik  from  day  to  day.  Most 
of  the  substance  in  these  letters  Herndon  had  previously  already  com- 
municated to  others.  Yet  even  Weik,  whom  he  had  especially  picked  for 
this  work,  did  not  make  full  use  of  his  letters,  compositions,  findings, 
and  conclusions.  Weik,  too,  reinterpreted  Herndon's  statements  and 
used  only  such  portions  of  them  as  he  approved  of.  Aside  from  the 
short  preface  written  by  Herndon,  nothing  was  printed  as  Herndon 
intended.  The  preface,  short  as  it  is,  tells  of  Herndon's  purposes — 
many  of  which  were  in  fact  frustrated  by  the  recipients  of  his  letters 
and  by  his  co-worker,  Weik.  And  as  if  Weik's  distortions  were  not 
sufficient,  the  editor  in  the  office  of  Belford,  Clarke  &  Company — the 
publishers,  soon  to  be  bankrupt,  of  this  unfortunate  venture — again 
revised  Weik's  version  of  what  Herndon  wrote. 

Herndon  complained  bitterly  of  the  treatment  of  his  manuscript, 
bxlt  his  protests  were  of  no  avail.  Weik  never  specifically  replied  to 
Herndon's  complaints  ;  he  simply  ignored  them.  The  two  men  met  but 
rarely,  and  Herndon,  old,  weak,  and  disappointed,  gave  up  the  fight. 
He  had  received  less  than  $300  from  Weik,  not  only  for  his  work  in  the 
writing  of  the  book,  but  also  for  his  entire  collection,  the  amassing 
of  which  had  consumed  most  of  his  mature  years.  After  the  failure  of 
Belford,  Clarke  &  Company,  and  the  financial  disappointment  of  both 
Weik  and  Herndon,  the  whole  collection  of  facts  was  again  buried 
until  1922,  when  Weik,  in  his  old  age,  resurrected  portions  of  it  in  a 
book  entitled  The  Real  Lincoln,  A  Portrait.  Jesse  W.  Weik  is  here  at 
last  generous  to  his  friend  Herndon ;  he  pays  him  a  much-deserved 
tribute  in  his  opening  pages  by  quoting  the  estimate  of  Herndon's 
work  by  one  of  Lincoln's  closest  friends,  Henry  C.  Whitney,  of  Ur- 
bana,  Illinois,  who  says  in  a  letter  to  Herndon : 

**You  saw  Lincoln  as  he  was  and  know  him  far  better  than  all  other 
living  men  combined.  Armed  with  such  knowledge  it  follows  that  you 
know  better  than  others  how  to  delineate  him.  You  have  the  acuteness 
of  vision  that  we  attribute  to  Lincoln;  you  acquired  much  of  his 
analytical  power  by  attrition  and  you  thought  deeply  as  he  did.  He 


10  THE    HIDDEN    LIKCOLN 

had  unbounded  confidence  in  your  intuitions  and  your  adhesion  to 
him.  I  shall  never  forget  the  day — January  6, 1859 — when  a  Legisla- 
ture of  Illinois  met  in  joint  session  and  elected  Stephen  A.  Douglas, 
instead  of  himself,  to  the  United  States  Senate.  I  went  to  your  office 
and  found  Lincoln  there  alone.  He  appeared  to  be  somewhat  dejected 
— in  fact  I  never  saw  a  man  so  depressed.  I  tried  to  rally  his  drooping 
spirits  and  thus  extract  all  the  comfort  possible  from  the  situation, 
but  with  ill  success.  He  was  simply  steeped  in  gloom.  For  a  time  he 
was  silent ;  finally  he  straightened  up  and  thanked  me,  but  presently 
slid  back  into  his  chair  again,  blurting  out  as  he  sank  down :  'Well, 
whatever  happens  I  expect  everyone  to  desert  me  now,  but  Billy 
Herndon.' " 

In  his  introduction  to  John  Fort  Newton's  excellent  book,  Lincoln 
and  Herndon,  F.  B.  Sanborn  says : 

"Among  those  originals  I  found  the  whole  of  the  five  years'  corres- 
pondence between  Parker  and  Herndon,  the  law  partner  of  Abraham 
Lincoln  for  more  than  twenty  years.  I  saw  the  historical  and  political 
value  of  this  peculiar  interchange  of  opinion  and  fact,  by  which  Parker 
was  brought  near  the  mind  of  one  of  his  latest  friends,  who  was  to 
complete  the  work  of  slave-emancipation — in  which  Parker  had  been 
active  for  nearly  twenty  years  before  his  death — and  was  to  die  as  the 
second  great  martyr  in  the  cause  of  American  emancipation.  But  it 
was  not  convenient  for  me  to  edit  these  letters ;  nor  was  the  time  ripe 
for  this,  thirty  years  ago.  This  Mr,  Newton  has  now  done  with  research 
and  discretion,  collating,  correcting,  and  combining  the  mass  of  ma- 
terial accumulated  since  Lincoln's  death,  and  contributing  his  own 
verdict  on  the  characters  and  events  of  the  crisis.  He  has  added  new 
material,  bearing  on  the  relations  between  Lincoln  and  Herndon,  to 
whom  earlier  writers  have  by  no  means  done  justice;  but  who  in  this 
book  stands  revealed  in  his  actual  character,  as  the  most  important 
witness  and  chronicler  of  his  partner's  career.  He  writes  from  his  own 
point  of  view,  and  with  the  advantage  that  lapse  of  time  gives  to  the 
seeker  after  that  most  elusive  chameleon,  historical  truth.  It  is  a  work 
well  done,  and  will  stand  the  test  of  after  years,  which  unsparingly 
judge  the  mere  eulogy  or  invective  that  would  pass  for  biography. 

"In  the  volume  now  completed,  my  early  and  beloved  friend,  Theo- 
dore Parker,  becomes  almost  a  shadowy  figure  in  the  vast  drama  of 


THE     ORIGINAL,     HERNDON     LETTERS  11 

national  regeneration ;  since  he  died,  like  Moses,  within  sight  of  the 
Promised  Land  that  he  was  never  to  enter.  But  his  work  has  been  so 
well  done,  and  was  so  heartily  recognized  by  Herndon,  in  these  en^ 
thusiastic  and  picturesque  letters,  that  this  shadow  stands  for  some- 
thing substantial,  which  the  many  volumes  of  Parker's  discourses  will 
certify  and  make  good.  He  appears  here  as  in  some  sort  the  inspirer 
of  Herndon,  and  through  him  of  Lincoln — the  grandest  personage  of 
our  long  unfolding  drama,  and  one  of  the  most  tragic." 

William  H.  Herndon,  the  son  of  Rebecca  (Day)  Johnson  and 
Archer  G.  Herndon,  was  born  on  December  25,  1818,  in  Greensburg, 
Kentucky.  The  family  moved  to  Illinois  in  1820  and  to  Springfield 
in  1825.  He  was  educated  in  the  Preparatory  Department  of  Illinois 
College,  where  he  absorbed  its  anti-slavery  atmosphere.  It  was  there 
that  the  first  seeds  were  sown  which  made  him  an  abolitionist.  An  im- 
passioned public  utterance  on  the  lynching  of  the  anti-slavery  editor 
Elijah  Love  joy  caused  his  father  to  recall  the  "abolitionist  pup,"  and 
a  breach  occurred  between  father  and  son  which  remained  unhealed. 
After  taking  some  odd  jobs,  Herndon  began  to  study  law  and  soon 
after  his  admission  to  the  bar  became  Lincoln's  partner.  The  partner- 
ship was  dissolved  by  Lincoln's  death.  Herndon  occupied  the  same 
office  for  the  rest  of  his  life,  first  in  partnership  with  Charles  Zane,  one 
of  Lincoln's  office  boys,  who  later  became  judge  of  the  United  States 
District  Court  for  the  Southern  District  of  Illinois.  Herndon's  last 
partner  was  Alfred  Orendorff. 

On  March  26, 1840,  Herndon  married  Mary  J.  Maxey,  by  whom  he 
had  six  children ;  after  her  death  he  married  on  July  31,  1861,  Annie 
Mites,  who  bore  him  two  children.  The  second  marriage  was  in  part 
a  result  of  his  making  good  on  a  political  promise  to  the  young  bride's 
brother,  for  whom  he  procured  an  appointment  from  Lincoln. 

Herndon  did  not  have  the  makings  of  a  politician,  although  he  did 
serve  one  term  as  Mayor  of  Springfield  and  was  State  Bank  Examiner, 
which  position  came  to  him  through  the  influence  of  Lincoln  and  to 
which  he  was  reappointed  by  Governor  Yates  at  the  request  of  Lincoln 
just  about  the  time  that  Lincoln  left  for  Washington.  He  was  also 
candidate  for  presidential  elector  in  1856.  Before  Lincoln's  departure 
to  Washington,  Herndon  acted  not  only  as  his  partner,  but  as  his 
spokesman  and  his  adviser.  After  1861,  when  his  partner  had  achieved 


12  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

national  fame,  he  began  the  gathering  of  all  the  important  material 
about  Lincoln's  life  which  was  to  become,  after  Lincoln's  assassina- 
tion, the  main  occupation  of  his  own  life. 

As  has  been  truthfully  said,  it  was  unwavering  and  inflexible  devo- 
tion to  the  truth  that  formed  the  predominating  trait  in  the  char- 
acter of  William  H.  Herndon.  In  this  respect  he  resembled  his  illus- 
trious law  partner.  Both  men  up  to  a  certain  point  were  very  much 
alike,  but  there  was  this  difference :  Lincoln,  deeply  cautious  and  re- 
strained, was  prone  to  abstract  and  thoughtful  calculation.  Herndon, 
by  nature  forceful  and  alert,  was  quick,  impulsive,  and  often  precipi- 
tate. If  he  detected  wrong  he  proclaimed  the  fact  instantly  and  every- 
where, and  fought  at  the  drop  of  the  hat,  and  fought  incessantly, 
pushing  blindly  through  the  smoke  of  battle  until  he  was  either  hope- 
lessly overcome  or  stood  exultant  on  the  hilltop  of  victory.  Younger 
than  Lincoln,  he  was  more  venturesome,  and  magnificently  oblivious  of 
consequences. 

Conscious  of  his  limitations,  Herndon  knew  that  he  was  too  radical 
and  bold  to  achieve  success  in  politics,  and  he  therefore  sank  himself 
in  the  fortunes  of  his  more  happily  poised  partner.  In  the  end  posterity 
will  accept  the  verdict  of  Herndon's  friends  that,  despite  his  faults, 
he  was  a  noble,  broad-minded  man,  incapable  of  a  mean  or  selfish  act, 
brave  and  big-hearted,  tolerant,  forgiving,  just,  and  as  true  to  Lin- 
coln as  the  "needle  to  the  pole." 

Beveridge  encouraged  and  urged  Weik  to  write  his  later  book  as  a 
vindication  of  Herndon :  "You  are  quite  right  about  Herndon.  In  all 
my  investigation,  his  character  shines  out  clear  and  stainless.  As  I  said 
of  him  in  my  review  of  your  book,  he  was  almost  a  fanatic  in  his  devo- 
tion to  truth.  Wherever  he  states  a  fact  as  such,  I  accept  it,  unless 
other  indisputable  and  documentary  proof  shows  that  his  memory  was 
a  little  bit  defective." 

Senator  Beveridge  himself,  after  writing  the  Life  of  Chief  Justice 
John  Marshall,  decided  to  write  a  companion  book  on  Abraham  Lin- 
coln. Beveridge  not  only  became  acquainted  with  all  the  Lincoln  stu- 
dents and  collectors  of  Illinois,  Indiana,  and  Kentucky,  who  all  as- 
sisted him  and  gave  him  access  to  their  collections,  but  he  also  had 
the  close  co-operation  and  friendship  of  Weik,  who  generously  turned 
over  to  him  everything  that  Herndon  had  collected  and  written 
(throughout  his  book  Beveridge  refers  to  this  as  the  Weik  Collection)  ; 


THE     ORIGINAL     HEBNDON     LETTERS  IS 

but  Beveridge  did  not  possess  the  attributes  that  a  devoted  biographer 
of  Abraham  Lincoln  ought  to  have.  A  true  Bo  swell  has  one  hero  only, 
to  whom  he  dedicates  his  entire  life.  Beveridge  used  only  so  much  of 
the  Herndon  material  as  he  saw  fit — a  shocking  liberty  to  a  genuine 
Boswell,  such  as  Beveridge  admitted  Herndon  to  be: 

"I  do  not,  at  the  moment,  recall  another  case  in  history  where  im- 
mediately after  the  death  of  a  great  personage,  the  facts  of  his  per- 
sonal life  were  collected  so  carefully,  thoroughly,  and  impartially  by 
a  lifelong  friend  and  intimate  professional  associate,  as  the  facts  about 
Lincoln  were  gathered  by  William  H.  Herndon.  Almost  from  boyhood 
Herndon  had  been  an  idolater  of  Lincoln ;  and  for  seventeen  years  the 
two  men  were  partners  in  the  practice  of  law.  So  Herndon  saw  more 
of  Lincoln  and  heard  more  from  Lincoln's  lips  than  any  other  human 
being,  excepting  only  Lincoln's  wife. 

"Almost  at  once  after  the  assassination,  Herndon  began  to  col- 
lect material  relating  to  his  hero.  He  wrote  to  everybody  who  ever 
knew  Lincoln  or  his  parents — everything  about  Lincoln  is  covered, 
up  to  1861 ;  Herndon's  industry  and  persistence  in  this  are  astonish- 
ing. ...  In  his  letters  he  asked  questions  upon  every  conceivable 
point.  .  .  .  Some  questions  were  not  answered  clearly,  and  Herndon 
wrote  again  and  again,  until  the  smallest  detail  was  made  plain.  Often, 
as  in  the  case  of  Sarah  Bickard,  he  would  have  to  write  several  times 
before  he  got  any  answer  at  all.  But  he  stuck  to  it.  Most  of  those 
who  had  known  Lincoln  as  boy  and  young  man  had  scattered  far  and 
wide  over  the  United  States ;  no  matter,  Herndon  traced  them.  Those 
whom  he  could  reach  personally,  he  interviewed,  and  immediately  wrote 
out  notes  of  what  they  said.  I  have  read  in  the  original  manuscript 
these  transcripts ;  they  show  on  their  faces  that  they  were  written  by 
a  trained  lawyer,  skilled  in  the  taking  of  depositions  and  the  making 
of  notes  of  statements  by  witnesses.  I  have  read,  too,  the  original  let- 
ters to  Herndon  in  answer  to  his  inquiries,  and  also  Herndon's  own 
letters  about  Lincoln,  as  well  as  his  entire  manuscript  on  the  subject. 
Everywhere  it  is  obvious  that  Herndon  is  intent  on  telling  the  truth 
himself  and  on  getting  the  truth  from  those  who  could  give  personal, 
first-hand  information.  .  .  . 

"Herndon  had  gone  with  Lincoln  in  his  circuit  riding ;  and  he  knew 
intimately  the  lawyers  and  judges  with  whom  Lincoln  spent  all  his 
professional  life  outside  the  office  of  Lincoln  and  Herndon,  where,  of 


14  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

course,  the  junior  partner  was  in  closer  contact  with  his  senior  than 
anybody  else  possibly  could  have  been. 

"Herndon  was  forty-seven  years  of  age  when  Lincoln  was  murdered. 
For  fourteen  years  after  that  event,  he  kept  up  his  Lincoln  researches, 
delivering  several  lectures  on  phases  of  Lincoln's  life,  practicing  law, 
and  keeping  up  a  large  general  correspondence. 

"Perhaps  it  is  not  unworthy  of  note  that  it  was  to  Herndon,  and 
not  to  Lincoln,  that,  for  years  before  his  nomination  for  the  Presi- 
dency, such  men  as  Parker,  Sunnier,  Seward,  Phillips,  Greeley,  and 
Garrison  wrote.  To  be  sure,  the  youthful  and  ardent  Herndon  always 
began  the  correspondence ;  yet,  even  so,  it  was  to  him  and  not  to  his 
partner  that  these  brilliant  men,  molders  of  the  public  opinion  of  the 
time,  looked  for  reports  of  conditions  in  Illinois.  It  is  extremely 
curious  that,  judging  from  their  letters  to  Herndon,  these  leaders 
seemed  not  to  have  realized  that  Lincoln  amounted  to  anything  during 
that  period.'* 

After  Herndon's  death,  almost  every  biographer  of  Lincoln  who 
wanted  to  do  justice  to  his  subject  communicated  with  Weik  and 
begged  him  for  a  glimpse  of  the  Herndon  material.  No  one  knew  of  the 
similar  letters  Herndon  had  written  to  Hart,  Arnold,  Lamony  Bartlett, 
and  Whitney.  Consider  the  importunate  letters  of  Dr.  Barton;  he 
wrote  about  a  hundred  of  them,  and  finally  became  so  insistent  that 
Weik  submitted  the  question  to  Beveridge,  and  the  decision  given  by 
the  Senator  was  in  the  negative :  "After  giving  prolonged  and  careful 
thought  to  the  matter  of  letting  Barton  have  any  of  your  material, 
and,  in  view  of  your  broad-minded  and  generous  letter  and  the  con- 
fidence you  repose  in  me,  I  consulted  about  it,  in  absolute  confidence, 
with  Worthington  Chauncey  Ford,  Ellery  Sedgwick,  and  Greenslet, 
all  of  whom  firmly  believe  that,  under  the  circumstances,  I  should  not 
part  with  any  of  this  material.  ...  In  view  of  the  combined  judg- 
ment of  all  four  of  us  ...  my  advice  is  ...  to  tell  him  frankly 
that  you  cannot  part  with  any  further  material  and  thus  end  the 
correspondence." 

Thus  did  Beveridgey  after  himself  lifting  no  more  than  a  corner  of 
the  veil  over  Herndon's  researches,  prevent  their  being  revealed  to 
others.  Prom  1889f  no  one  was  allowed  to  have  access  to  this  mine  of 
information  until  in  1922  most  of  it  had  passed  into  other  hands  and 


THE     ORIGINAL     HEB-NDON    LETTERS  15 

a  good  deal  of  it  into  the  Henry  E.  Huntington  Library  along  with  the 
Lamon  and  Hart  Collections. 

But  long  before  this  a  series  of  articles  began  to  appear  in  Century 
which  were  ultimately  to  become  Nicolay  and  Hay's  great  ten-volume 
work  on  Lincoln — certainly  intended  to  be,  and  widely  greeted  as,  the 
definitive  biography  of  the  Civil  War  President.  Herndon  read  the 
articles  as  they  appeared,  and  his  criticism,  scattered  through  his  let- 
ters to  Weik  and  others,  was  deadly.  "They  are  aiming,"  he  says, 
"first,  to  do  a  superb  piece  of  literary  work ;  second,  to  make  the  story 
with  the  classes  as  against  the  masses.  It  will  result  in  delineating  the 
real  Lincoln  about  as  well  as  does  a  wax  figure  in  the  museum.  .  .  . 
Nicolay  and  Hay  have  suppressed  many  facts — material  facts  of 
Lincoln's  life,  and  among  them  are  Lincoln's  genealogy,  paternity, 
the  description  of  Nancy  Hanks,  old  Thomas  Lincoln,  the  Ann  Rut- 
ledge  story,  Lincoln's  religion,  Lincoln's  spells  of  morbidity,  the  facts 
of  Lincoln's  misery  with  Mary  Todd,  Lincoln's  backdown  on  the 
night  that  he  and  Mary  Todd  were  to  be  married,  etc.,  etc.  I  do  not 
say  that  they  did  not  mention  some  of  these  things  in  a  roundabout 
way,  but  I  do  say  that  the  kernel,  'nib,'  or  point  of  things  has  been 
purposely  suppressed.  Nicolay  and  Hay  do  know  the  facts  fully,  as  I 
am  informed  on  good  authority.  .  .  .  Nicolay  and  Hay  handle  things 
with  silken  gloves  and  a  camel-hair  pencil.  They  do  not  write  with  an 
iron  pen.  .  .  •  Some  of  the  finest  episodes  in  Lincoln's  young  life  are 
omitted  or  evaded  or  swallowed  up  in  words.  .  .  .  They  are  writing 
the  Life  of  Lincoln  under  the  surveillance  of  Bob  Lincoln.  Nicolay  and 
Hay,  in  my  opinion,  are  afraid  of  Bob.  He  gives  them  materials  and 
they  in  turn  play  hush.  This- is  my  opinion,  and  is  worth  no  more  than 
an  honest  opinion." 

It  is  curious  that  John  Hay  himself  admitted  the  justice  of  this  sort 
of  criticism  in  a  letter  to  Herndon,  which  incidentally  contains  what 
is  perhaps  one  of  the  finest  estimates  of  Lincoln's  character:  "No 
great  man  was  ever  modest.  It  was  his  intellectual  arrogance  and  un- 
conscious assumption  of  superiority  that  men  like  Chase  and  Sumner 
never  could  forgive.  I  believe  Lincoln  is  well  understood  by  the  people. 
Miss  Nancy  Bancroft  and  the  rest  of  that  patent-leather  kid-glove  set 
know  no  more  of  him  than  an  owl  does  of  a  comet  blazing  into  its  blink- 
ing eyes.  Bancroft's  address  was  a  disgraceful  exhibition  of  ignorance 


16  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  prejudice.  His  effeminate  nature  shrinks  instinctively  from  the 
contact  of  a  great  reality  like  Lincoln's  character.  I  consider  Lin- 
coln Republicanism  incarnate,  with  all  its  faults  and  all  its  virtues. 
As,  in  spite  of  some  rudeness.  Republicanism  is  the  sole  hope  of  a  sick 
world,  so  Lincoln,  with  all  his  foibles,  is  the  greatest  character  since 
Christ." 

Hay  idolized  Lincoln,  but  he  also  loved  Robert,  his  boyhood  friend. 
He  did  want  to  please  his  friend,  even  to  the  extent  of  omitting  from 
his  biography  anything  Robert  desired  left  unsaid.  Both  Hay  and 
Nicolay,  Lincoln's  other  secretary  and  hero-worshiper,  admit  to  writ- 
ing to  please  Robert.  In  Hay's  letter  *  to  Robert  T.  Lincoln  (January 
27, 1884),  requesting  Robert  to  look  over  the  chapters  embracing  the 
first  forty  years  of  his  father's  life,  he  says : 

"I  need  not  tell  you  that  every  line  has  been  written  in  a  spirit  of 
reverence  and  regard.  Still,  you  may  find  here  and  there  words  and 
sentences  which  do  not  suit.  I  write  now  to  request  that  you  will  read 
with  pencil  in  your  hand  and  strike  out  everything  to  which  you  ob- 
ject. I  will  adopt  your  view  in  all  cases,  whether  I  agree  with  you  or 
not.5'  Robert  Lincoln  must  have  taken  this  injunction  very  seriously, 
since  the  first  forty  years  of  Lincoln's  life  are  summarized  in  only  282 
pages  out  of  the  4709  pages  of  the  completed  book. 

In  his  letter  to  Robert  Lincoln  on  January  6,  1886,  Hay  writes : 
"I  was  very  sorry  to  see  by  a  letter  you  wrote  to  Nicolay  that  you 
were  still  not  satisfied  with  my  assurance  that  I  would  make  these  first 
chapters  all  right.  Even  before  you  read  them  I  had  struck  out  of  my 
own  copy  here  nearly  everything  that  you  objected  to  and  had  written 
Nicolay  to  make  the  changes  in  his  ...  since  then  I  have  gone  over 
the  whole  thing  and  will  again,  reading  every  line  so  far  as  possible 
from  your  point  of  view,  and  I  don't  think  there  is  a  word  left  in  that 
would  displease  you.  But,  of  course,  before  final  publication  I  shall 
give  you  another  hack  at  it  with  plenary  blue  pencil  powers." 

In  his  letter  of  March  5,  1888,  Hay  says :  "I  thank  you  for  the 
corrections,  all  of  which  I  have  of  course  adopted." 

To  Henry  Adams,  Hay  writes,  August  4,  1889 :  "I  only  wonder  at 
the  merciful  Providence  which  keeps  my  critics  away  from  the  weak 
joints  in  my  armor.  Laws-a -mercy ;  if  I  had  the  criticizing  of  that 

i  This  and  the  letters  referred  to  below  appeared  after  Hay's  death— in  his  diary, 
"printed  but  not  published,"  and  distributed  only  among  friends  of  the  Hay  family. 


THE     ORIGINAL     HEBNDON     LETTERS  17 

book,  what  a  skinning  I  could  give  it !  I  can't  amend  it,  but  could 
ereinter  it — I  would  break  its  back  de  la  belle  maniere." 

Not  satisfied,  it  would  seem,  with  his  part  in  emasculating  certain 
portions  of  Nicolay  and  Hay's  great  work,  Robert  Lincoln  went  on  to 
an  action  which  has  not  even  yet  been  fully  disclosed.  Senator  Bev- 
eridge  requested  of  Robert  Lincoln  permission  to  examine  all  the  pa- 
pers which  formed  the  basis  of  Nicolay  and  Hay's  work  in  order  to 
check  on  its  correctness.  Robert  Lincoln  informed  Senator  Beveridge 
that  he  thought  Beveridge's  work  superfluous,  if  not  useless,  as  he  con- 
sidered Nicolay  and  Hay's  volumes  the  last  word,  the  encyclopedia, 
of  Lincoln  information,  the  fairest  and  most  complete  compendium 
of  the  events  of  Lincoln's  life,  as  well  as  the  only  impartial  commentary 
on  that  life ;  and  he  said  so  repeatedly,  not  only  in  conversation  but 
also  over  signature.  He  had  been  of  that  opinion  for  more  than  a 
quarter  of  a  century  before  Beveridge  made  his  request.  Robert  Lin- 
coln therefore  refused  Beveridge's  request  to  check  the  papers  which 
had  been  given  to  Lincoln's  former  secretaries  and  which  they  had 
freely  used  and  in  many  cases — too  many — edited  (they  had  even 
edited  Lincoln's  farewell  address  at  Springfield,  omitting  a  human 
sentiment  or  two  that  did  not  please  them) . 

Beveridge  made  further  futile  efforts  through  friends  of  Robert 
Lincoln,  but  Lincoln  became  adamant  on  the  subject.  In  order  to 
make  it  impossible  for  Beveridge  ever  to  see  the  documents,  Lincoln 
made  a  deed  of  gift  presenting  them  all  to  the  Library  of  Congress, 
on  condition  that  they  were  not  to  be  opened  or  seen  by  anyone  without 
his  consent  or  the  consent  of  his  wife,  in  writing,  until  twenty-one 
years  after  his  death.  These  documents  are  now  classified  in  folders 
and  lodged  in  bookcases  bearing  the  legend:  "Not  to  be  consulted/5 
and  there  they  will  remain  until  1947.  But  before  presenting  them  to 
the  Library  of  Congress,  Lincoln  subjected  the  papers  to  a  purge.  A 
friend  of  the  late  Horace  G.  Young,  President  of  the  Delaware  &  Hud- 
son Railroad,  tells  the  following  story : 

"Horace  G.  Young  was  an  intimate  friend  of  Robert  T.  Lincoln, 
and  he  and  Mr.  Lincoln  were  accustomed  to  spend  part  of  each  summer 
together*  A  few  years  before  Mr.  Lincoln's  death,  Mr.  Young  went  as 
usual  to  visit  him  at  Mr.  Lincoln's  home  in  Manchester,  Vermont.  On 
arriving  at  the  house  he  found  Mr.  Lincoln  in  a  room  surrounded  by  a 
number  of  large  boxes  and  with  many  -papers  scattered  about  the 


18  THE     HIDDEN     I/INCOL2T 

floor,  and  with  the  ashes  of  many  burnt  papers  visible  in  the  fireplace. 
Mr.  Young  asked  Mr.  Lincoln  what  he  was  doing,  and  Mr.  Lincoln 
replied  that  he  was  destroying  some  of  the  private  papers  and  letters 
of  his  father,  Abraham  Lincoln.  Mr.  Young  at  once  remonstrated 
with  Mr.  Lincoln  and  said  that  no  one  had  any  right  to  destroy  such 
papers,  Mr.  Lincoln  least  of  all.  Mr.  Lincoln  replied  that  he  did  not 
intend  to  continue  his  destruction — since  the  papers  he  was  destroying 
contained  the  documentary  evidence  of  the  treason  of  a  member  of 
Lincoln's  Cabinet,  and  that  he  thought  it  was  best  for  all  that  such 
evidence  be  destroyed.  Mr.  Young  immediately  visited  Dr.  [Nicholas 
Murray]  Butler,  who  was  in  town,  and  told  him  what  Robert  T.  Lin- 
coln was  doing.  Dr.  Butler  promptly  called  on  Robert  T.  Lincoln  and 
argued  and  pleaded  with  him  and  finally  prevailed  upon  him  to  de- 
sist— and  place  the  papers  where  they  would  be  safe  in  order  that  they 
might  be  preserved  for  posterity." 

Dr.  Butler's  own  account  *  of  the  incident  is  as  follows :  "It  was 
Mr.  Horace  G.  Young,  then  at  Manchester,  Vermont,  who  brought  to 
my  attention  within  a  few  hours  after  I  arrived  from  Europe  the  fact 
that  Robert  Lincoln  was  about  to  burn  a  collection  of  his  father's 
papers,  and  that  he,  Mr.  Young,  had  been  unable  to  persuade  him 
not  to  do  so.  I  went  immediately  to  his  house  and  had  a  most  earnest 
discussion  of  the  whole  subject  with  Mr.  Lincoln  in  his  library.  I 
went  so  far  as  to  insist  that  the  papers  did  not  belong  to  him,  since 
his  father  had  belonged  to  the  country  for  half  a  century  and  the  pa- 
pers therefore  belonged  to  the  country  also.  Robert  Lincoln  finally 
acceded  to  my  urgent  and  insistent  request  for  the  preservation  of  the 
papers  and  sent  them  under  seal  to  the  Library  of  Congress,  there  to 
remain  unopened  for  fifty  years. 

"Subsequently,  Senator  Beveridge,  then  engaged  on  his  Life  of  Lin- 
coln, having  heard  of  the  incident,  asked  me  to  procure  for  him  op- 
portunity to  examine  these  papers.  I  have  the  Correspondence  with 
Robert  Lincoln  in  which  he  declined  flatly  to  grant  Beveridge's  re- 
quest." 

The  diary  of  Orville  H.  Browning,  United  States  Senator  from 
Illinois,  did  not  fare  any  better.  Here  was  a  calm,  dispassionate  his- 
torian and  observer,  certainly  a  friend  of  Lincoln  and  a  colleague  at 
the  bar  of  Illinois,  who  wrote  his  diary  and  made  entries  from  day  to 
1  In  a  letter  to  the  writer,  dated  November  5,  1937. 


THE     OBIGINAI/     HEKNDON     LETTERS  19 

day.  That  diary  remained  secreted  until  a  few  years  ago,  when  it  was 
turned  over  to  the  University  of  Illinois  and  was  then  permitted  by 
the  owner  to  be  edited  and  printed  only  on  condition  that  certain  sec- 
tions and  entries  be  omitted.  They  were  omitted. 

So  it  went.  McClure's  papers  on  Lincoln  were  destroyed  by  General 
McCausland;  Robert  Levi  Todd,  one  of  Lincoln's  intimate  associates, 
left  his  papers  to  Todd  Gentry,  who  destroyed  them.  Lincoln's  enemies 
in  the  South  destroyed  many  documents,  as  did  collectors  who  were 
interested  in  saving  only  Lincoln's  signature.  Even  the  elements  joined 
in  the  destruction,  the  Chicago  fire  having  been  responsible  for  the  loss 
of  much  significant  material. 

For  these  reasons  alone,  the  work  of  Herndon,  a  man  who  put  the 
passion  for  truth  before  any  "kid-glove"  considerations,  would  become 
of  paramount  historical  importance.  Unfortunately  Herndon's  book 
too  succumbed  to  the  forces  that  were  responsible  for  the  policy  of 
hush.  Even  so,  as  finally  published  by  Belford,  Clarke  &  Company,  in 
its  mutilated  form,  poorly  printed,  on  poor  paper,  in  three  ridiculous 
little  volumes,  Herndon's  Life  still  raised  a  storm  of  criticism  for  some 
of  the  things  it  contained ;  for  this  censored  book  *  has  been  the  chief 
source  of  practically  all  we  know  of  Lincoln  up  to  the  day  he  left 
Springfield.  Herndon  simply  wanted  Lincoln  to  become  as  familiar  to 
all  Americans  as  the  air  we  breathe,  and  for  this  reason  he  wanted  each 
detail  of  Lincoln's  life  spread  fairly  on  the  record.  He  was  not  allowed 
to  do  this  in  his  own  book,  and  he  died  penniless  and  slandered. 

This,  then,  until  recently  seemed  to  be  the  whole  pathetic  story  of 
William  H.  Herndon,  who  strove  to  lay  down  the  foundations  of  the 
true  history  of  the  great  man  to  whom  he  had  given  his  whole  heart ; 
whose  secretary,  adviser,  and  partner  he  had  been ;  to  whom  he  had 
been  purveyor  of  every  book,  newspaper,  magazine,  or  pamphlet  Lin- 
coln needed ;  whose  ambassador-at-large  and  confidential  agent  to  such 
men  as  Theodore  Parker,  Horace  Greeley,  and  the  leaders  of  the  Re- 
publican party  in  the  East  he  was.  But  for  some  years  many  of  the 
documents  have  been  reposing  in  the  Henry  E.  Huntington  Library 
in  San  Marino,  California,  including  the  originals  not  only  of  Hern- 
don's draft  chapters  for  Lamon's  book  and  of  his  letters  to  Weik,  but 
also  the  complete  series  of  letters  he  wrote  to  Charles  H.  Hart,  Ward 

i  It  was  republished  in  two  volumes  under  the  editorship  of  Horace  White  in  1895, 
and  finally  appeared  in  1935  in  one  handy  volume  as  edited  by  Paul  M.  Angle. 


20  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

H.  Lamon,  I.  N.  Arnold,  and  others,  all  of  them  containing  and  re- 
peating those  results  of  Herndon's  researches  which  he  was  never  able 
to  make  public. 

When,  in  November  1933,  the  Herndon  documents  given  to  Weik 
were  made  available  for  my  inspection,  I  kept  reading  for  six  months 
thereafter — all  of  it.  As  these  invaluable  papers  unfolded  before  me, 
I  felt  like  Balboa  standing  on  a  peak  in  Darien  viewing  the  Pacific 
Ocean  for  the  first  time.  In  1931  I  had  published  1250  Lincoln  docu- 
ments hitherto  unknown,  and  they  have  played  a  part  in  the  reap- 
praisal of  Lincoln,  but  this  find  was  fundamental  and  massive  and 
called  for  independent  publication.  I  went  to  the  Huntington  Library 
to  examine  for  myself  the  greatest  collection  of  unused  Herndon  ma- 
terial in  existence. 

"Here  is  the  most  important  item  in  this  entire  collection,5'  Herndon 
had  said,  as  he  pointed  to  a  small  leather-covered  notebook  about  six 
by  four  inches  in  size,  the  two  covers  being  fastened  together  with  a 
brass  clasp.  "In  its  pages  you  will  find  ...  all  the  ammunition  Mr. 
Lincoln  saw  fit  to  gather  in  preparation  for  his  battle  with  Stephen 
A.  Douglas."  He  then  explained  that,  as  the  contest  of  1858  was  ap- 
proaching, Mr.  Lincoln  took  this  book,  originally  a  blank  book  which 
had  been  used  by  himself  and  his  partner  to  keep  track  of  citations  of 
cases,  and  proceeded  to  paste  in  its  pages  newspaper  clippings,  tables 
of  statistics,  and  other  data  bearing  on  the  great  and  absorbing  ques- 
tions of  the  day,  with  a  few  sentences  scribbled  in  here  and  there. 
**When  this  little  storehouse  of  political  information  was  filled,"  ob- 
served Herndon,  "Mr.  Lincoln  fastened  the  clasp,  placed  the  book  in 
his  coat  pocket,  there  to  repose  during  the  campaign  and  to  be  drawn 
upon  whenever  the  exigencies  of  debate  required  it."  Only  two  pages 
of  this  book  ever  came  to  light.  Now  the  whole  book  is  available. 

The  book  contains  about  one  hundred  and  eighty-five  clippings ;  the 
first  item  in  the  book  is  the  second  paragraph  of  the  Declaration  of 
Independence.  Lower  down  on  the  same  page  we  find  a  paragraph  from 
a  speech  by  Henry  Clay :  "I  repeat  it,  sir,  I  never  can  and  never  will 
and  no  earthly  power  will  make  me  look  directly  or  indirectly  to  spread 
slavery  over  territory  where  it  does  not  exist.  Never  while  reason  holds 
her  seat  in  my  brain — never  while  my  heart  sends  the  vital  fluid 
through  my  veins — NEVEB."  Next,  Lincoln  inserted  a  portion  of  the 


THE     ORIGINAL    HEENDON    LETTERS  21 

opening  of  his  speech  before  the  Republican  State  Convention,  wherein 
he  gave  utterance  to  the  doctrine  that  "a  house  divided  against  itself 
cannot  stand." 

It  is  strange  that  no  mention  seems  to  be  made  by  Herndon  of  a  sec- 
ond notebook  compiled  by  Lincoln,  equally  if  not  more  important,  and 
more  scientifically  prepared,  than  the  Douglas  debate  notebook.  This 
second  little  notebook  Lincoln  prepared  on  the  subject  of  slavery.  It 
contains  about  the  same  number  of  newspaper  clippings  and  excerpts 
as  does  the  Douglas  book,  but  this  is  indexed,  so  that  Lincoln  was  in- 
stantly able  to  find  and  quote  the  proper  passage  on  almost  any  phase 
of  the  slavery  problem  without  fear  of  challenge.  No  wonder  Douglas 
repeatedly  stated  that  he  would  rather  face  the  whole  United  States 
Senate  than  Lincoln  alone. 

Herndon's  six  series  of  letters  were  written  in  1866,  1868,  1870, 
1886, 1889,  and  1891 — and  their  very  repetitiousness  is  of  significance 
in  disproving  the  charge  that  Herndon's  memory  played  him  false. 
Hence  I  have  retained  many  letters  for  reproduction  for  that  reason 
alone.  Other  letters  have  been  included  because  of  the  light  they  throw 
upon  Herndon's  character  and  credibility.  Otherwise  a  great  deal  has 
been  omitted  from  the  collection  by  reason  of  its  irrelevance  to  the  Lin- 
coln question.  Herndon's  letters  are  here  reprinted  in  strictly  chrono- 
logical order,  but  some  approximation  to  a  division  according  to  re- 
cipients has  been  arrived  at  by  marking  off  the  total  series  of  letters  in 
Part  One  of  this  volume  into  five  sections :  the  first  of  letters  mainly 
to  Hart,  the  second  to  Lamon,  the  third  to  Weik,  the  fourth  to  Whit- 
ney and  Bartlett,  and  the  fifth  to  Bartlett  and  Weik. 

To  these  has  been  added  Part  Two,  consisting,  first,  of  the  evidences 
on  which  Herndon  based  his  conclusions — letters  written  to  Herndon 
in  response  to  his  requests  for  information  and  statements  and  affida- 
vits gathered  by  Herndon — and,  secondly,  of  those  conclusions  them- 
selves as  expressed  by  Herndon  in  his  monographs  and  draft  chapters. 
In  this  Part  the  distinction  between  Herndon's  own  writings  and  the 
statements  of  others  has  been  made  apparent  to  the  eye  by  the  typo- 
graphical device  of  having  the  latter  set  in  smaller  type.  Spelling  and 
punctuation,  but  not  grammar  or  other  peculiarities  of  style,  have 
been  normalized. 

Here  at  last  is  Herndon's  work  in  Herndon's  own  language  and  in 


22 


THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 


the  language  of  the  people  he  interviewed — David  Davis,  the  Justice  of 
the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States,  who  rarely  wrote  or  spoke  of 
what  he  knew  of  Lincoln ;  Joseph  Gillespie ;  James  H.  Matheny ;  Sarah 
Bush  Lincoln,  Abraham's  devoted  stepmother ;  Grigsby ;  Dennis  and 
John  Hanks ;  E.  B.  Washburne,  Congressman  and  Cabinet  officer  and 
minister  to  France;  Norman  B.  Judd,  great  lawyer  and  political 
leader ;  John  Wentworth,  Congressman  and  Mayor  of  Chicago ;  Jesse 
K.  Dubois,  lawyer  and  banking  commissioner ;  Governors  William  H. 
Bissell,  Richard  Yates,  and  R.  J.  Oglesby  of  Illinois ;  John  L.  Scripps, 
editor  of  the  Chicago  Tribune;  John  B.  Helm ;  Joshua  F.  Speed,  ad- 
mittedly Lincoln's  closest  friend  and  adviser ;  John  T.  Stuart,  Lin- 
coln's first  partner,  a  lawyer  of  ability;  Hannah  Armstrong,  who 
helped  Lincoln,  who  in  turn  defended  her  son  charged  with  murder 
and  won  his  acquittal  after  a  remarkable  struggle ;  John  McNamar, 
Ann  Rutledge's  first  affianced ;  Henry  C.  Whitney,  one  of  the  younger 
men  in  whom  Lincoln  had  confidence;  Leonard  Swett,  lawyer  who 
practiced  in  the  Eighth  Illinois  Circuit  and  was  a  friend  of  Lincoln ; 
Ninian  W.  Edwards  and  his  wife,  the  sister  of  Lincoln's  wife;  John  H. 
Littlefield,  one  of  Lincoln's  faithful  law  clerks;  Jesse  W.  Fell;  Law- 
rence Weldon,  a  lawyer  who  traveled  the  circuit  with  Lincoln  and  was 
later  one  of  his  appointees ;  F.  B.  Carpenter,  painter  who  lived  at  the 
White  House  for  six  months ;  Orlando  B.  Ficklin,  lawyer  and  intimate 
friend  of  Lincoln ;  Charles  S.  Zane,  law  clerk  and  Justice  of  the  United 
States  District  Court ;  Stephen  T.  Logan,  great  lawyer  and  Lincoln's 
partner;  Pascal  B.  Enos,  engineer  and  surveyor;  Joseph  Medill,  edi- 
tor and  owner  of  the  Chicago  Tribune;  Lyman  Trumbull,  Senator  and 
political  leader ;  Mentor  Graham ;  Rebecca  Herndon,  Archer  G.  Hern- 
don,  Elliott  B.  Herndon,  J.  Rowan  Herndon,  and  James  A.  Herndon 
— all  related  to  William  H.  Herndon ;  Horace  White,  editor  of  the 
Chicago  Tribune  who  accompanied  Lincoln  during  the  debates  with 
Douglas,  editor  of  the  New  York  Evening  Post,  and  one  of  the  most 
reliable  of  Lincoln  students  and  biographers ;  Joseph  G.  Cannon,  law- 
yer, Congressman,  and  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  who 
saved  Lincoln's  stepmother  from  prosecution  for  larceny  while  her  son 
was  in  the  White  House ;  Daniel  E.  Voorhees,  long  a  Senator,  who 
heard  Lincoln  on  the  circuit  and  talked  and  wrote  about  Lincoln; 
Adlai  E.  Stevenson  and  Henry  Wilson,  both  Vice-Presidents  of  the 


THE     ORIGINAL     HEENDON     ILETTERS  23 

United  States ;  Charles  A.  Dana,  editor  of  the  New  York  Tribune, 
Assistant  Secretary  of  War,  and  finally  editor  of  the  Sun;  and  Henry 
Ward  Beecher,  clergyman,  orator,  publicist. 

After  reading  this  entire  collection,  situated  in  Huntington,  in  the 
Library  of  Congress,  and  in  the  Herndon  collections,  consisting  of 
more  than  ten  thousand  pages  of  original  material,  I  came  to  the  con- 
clusion that  both  Herndon  and  Lincoln  had  been  defrauded  of  the 
appreciation  due  them  by  the  neglect  of  these  documents.  "You  owe  a 
tremendous  debt  of  gratitude  to  dear  old  Herndon,'*  Beveridge  writes 
to  Weik,  "and  what  is  more  important,  you  owe  it  to  the  world  to 
rescue  that  splendid  old  gentleman  from  the  morass  of  misrepresenta- 
tion and  even  slander  into  which  interested  and  prejudiced  persons 
threw  him." 

Slandered  Herndon  certainly  has  been :  "Herdon  was  a  liar,"  "Hern- 
don was  a  drunkard,"  "Herndon  was  a  drug  addict,"  "Herndon  was 
jealous,"  "Herndon  was  ungrateful,"  "Herndon  was  enraged  that 
Lincoln  did  not  take  him  along  and  make  him  a  part  of  his  administra- 
tion." Herndon's  controversy  with  the  Reverend  James  A.  Reed  over 
Lincoln's  religion,  as  quoted  in  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln,  was  the  cause 
for  the  appearance  in  the  press  of  items  charging  Herndon  with  being 
a  lunatic,  a  pauper,  a  drunkard,  an  infidel,  a  liar,  a  knave.  These  libels 
Herndon  answered  from  time  to  time  as  best  he  could. 

In  September  1882,  the  Cherryvale,  Kansas,  Globe-News  published 
the  following  article: 

"Lincoln's  Old  Law  Partner  a  Pauper" 

"Bill  Herndon  is  a  pauper  in  Springfield,  111.  He  was  once  worth 
considerable  property.  His  mind  was  the  most  argumentative  of  any 
of  the  old  lawyers  in  the  State,  and  his  memory  was  extraordinary. 
.  .  .  Herndon,  with  all  his  attainments,  was  a  man  who  now  and  then 
went  on  a  spree,  and  it  was  no  uncommon  thing  for  him  to  leave  an  im- 
portant lawsuit  and  spend  several  days  in  drinking  and  carousing. 
This  habit  became  worse  after  Lincoln's  death,  and  like  poor  Dick 
Yates,  Herndon  went  down  step  by  step  till  his  old  friends  and  asso- 
ciates point  to  him  as  a  common  drunkard." 

On  November  9, 1882,  Herndon  issued  a  broadside  which  he  entitled 
"A  Card  and  a  Correction."  After  implying  that  Reed  and  others  who 


24  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

held  opinions  concerning  Lincoln's  religion  opposite  to  his  own  were 
in  no  small  measure  responsible  for  this  and  similar  allegations,  he 
made  his  defense  in  the  following  words : 

"There  are  three  distinct  charges  in  the  above  article.  First,  that  I 
am  a  pauper ;  second,  that  I  am  a  common  drunkard ;  and,  third,  that 
I  was  a  traitor,  or  false  to  my  clients.  Let  me  answer  these  charges  in 
their  order*  First,  I  am  not  a  pauper,  never  have  been,  and  never  expect 
to  be.  I  am  working  on  my  own  farm  making  my  own  living  with  my 
own  muscle  and  brain,  a  place  and  a  calling  that  even  Christianity  with 
its  persecution  and  malignity  can  never  reach  me  to  do  me  much  harm. 
I  had,  it  is  true,  once  a  considerable  property,  but  lost  much  of  it  in  the 
crash  and  consequent  crisis  of  1873,  caused  in  part  by  the  contraction 
of  the  currency,  the  decline  in  the  demand  for  agricultural  products, 
which  I  raised  for  sale,  in  part  by  the  inability  of  the  people  to  buy, 
etc.,  etc.,  and  for  no  other  reasons. 

"Second,  I  never  was  a  common  drunkard,  as  I  look  at  it,  and  am 
not  now.  I  am  and  have  been  for  years  an  ardent  and  enthusiastic  tem- 
perance man,  though  opposed  to  prohibition  by  law,  by  any  force  or 
other  choker.  The  time  has  not  come  for  this.  It  is  a  fact  that  I  once, 
years  ago,  went  on  a  spree ;  and  this  I  now  deeply  regret.  It,  however, 
is  in  the  past,  and  let  a  good  life  in  the  future  bury  the  past.  I  have  not 
fallen,  I  have  risen ;  and  all  good  men  and  women  will  applaud  the  deed, 
always  excepting  a  small,  little,  bitter  Christian  like  the  Right  Rev. 
pastor  and  liar  of  this  city,  to  whom  I  can  trace  some  of  the  above 
charges.  In  my  case  this  minister  was  an  eager,  itching  libeler,  and 
what  he  said  of  me  is  false — nay,  a  willful  lie. 

"Third,  I  never  was  a  traitor  or  untrue  to  my  clients  or  their  inter- 
ests. I  never  left  them  during  the  progress  of  a  trial  or  at  other  times 
for  the  cause  alleged,  drunkenness.  I  may  have  crept,  slid,  out  of  a 
case  during  the  trial  because  I  had  no  faith  in  it,  leaving  Mr.  Lincoln, 
who  had  faith  in  it,  to  run  it  through.  My  want  of  faith  in  the  case 
would  have  been  discovered  by  the  jury  and  that  discovery  would  have 
damaged  my  client,  and  to  save  my  client  I  dodged.  This  is  all  there  is 
in  it  and  let  men  make  the  most  of  it." 

Another  charge  repeatedly  made  against  Herndon  by  persons  who 
considered  defamatory  his  lectures  on,  and  investigations  into,  Lin- 
coln's life  was  that  Herndon  hated  Lincoln  for  not  considering  him 
for  some  prominent  office  in  his  administration.  Herndon  long  ago 


THE     ORIGINAL     HERNDON     LETTERS  25 

acquitted  Lincoln  of  ingratitude.  He  tells  that  the  appointment  of 
himself,  Herndon,  to  office  was  the  very  first  thing  Lincoln  thought  of 
after  his  election.  It  was  Herndon  who  refused  to  become  a  member  of 
the  administration.  He  told  Lincoln  that  he  was  content  with  the  office 
of  State  Banking  Commissioner,  which  he  then  held,  and  Lincoln  im- 
mediately proceeded  to  Governor  Yates  to  make  sure  of  Herndon's  re- 
appointment  to  that  post. 

If  these  papers  serve  to  rehabilitate  Herndon,  they  will  not,  as  many 
have  feared,  do  harm  to  Lincoln's  name  and  fame.  They  contain  the 
best  yet  said  as  well  as  the  worst  of  the  man  Lincoln;  and  they  may 
clear  up  many  a  problem  which  has  not  been  heretofore  understood, 
and  which,  because  it  had  hitherto  to  express  itself  in  guarded  hints 
and  rumors,  created  an  atmosphere  of  slander.  An  unbiased  and  ac- 
curate Life  of  Lincoln  is  now  much  more  nearly  possible,  and  the 
American  people  who  produced  out  of  themselves  so  great  a  man  de- 
serve no  less. 

No  one  seriously  questions  the  accuracy  of  the  statements  Herndon 
made  in  his  letters  to  Theodore  Parker ;  perhaps  it  has  not  as  yet  oc- 
curred to  anyone  to  do  so.  In  Dr.  Newton's  Lincoln  and  Herndon  are 
fifty-two  letters  which  show  the  great  friendship  between  Parker  and 
Herndon.  Nor  is  there  any  general  criticism  of  the  accuracy  of  the 
main  facts  stated  in  Herndon's  lectures  or  in  his  book,  for  most  biog- 
raphers have  themselves  appropriated  these  facts.  Indeed  a  Life  of 
Lincoln  without  quotations  from  Herndon  cannot  be  written.  The 
criticism  of  Herndon  has  usually  been  on  the  score,  first,  of  his  conclu- 
sions and,  secondly,  of  the  specific  proportion  between  truth  and  error. 

Now  as  to  both  these  approaches,  the  argument  has  after  all  hitherto 
been  conducted  on  the  basis  of  insufficient  evidence.  Those  who  accuse 
Herndon  of  unreliability  in  fact  and  hastiness  in  conclusions  have 
never  had  before  them  all  of  Herndon's  evidence  or  a  complete  state- 
ment of  his  case.  They  have  not  known  the  remarkable  extent  to  which 
Lincoln's  friends  and  associates  bore  out  Herndon's  researches  and 
opinions.  None  delved  so  deeply  into  the  intimate  details  of  Lincoln's 
life  as  did  Herndon.  How  then  can  such  persons  decide  as  to  the  pro- 
portion of  fact  and  fancy  in  Herndon's  public  statements  ? 

Here  at  last  is  Herndon's  complete  evidence,  the  full  record  of  the 
steps  by  which  he  reached  his  conclusions,  the  supporting  testimony 
of  his  and  Lincoln's  contemporaries.  The  principals  of  the  storv  are 


26  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

no  longer  alive,  and  no  excuse  remains  for  silence.  These  seventy  years 
have  made  meaningless  the  passions  which  were  responsible  for  the 
misunderstanding  of  Herndon  and  his  motives.  Now  we  who  love  the 
memory  of  Lincoln  may  properly  thank  the  fate  which  gave  us  William 
Herndon's  unflagging  passion  for  completeness.  "Men  collect  gold," 
says  Chrysostom,  "not  only  in  lumps  but  also  in  the  minutest  frag- 
ments. "  All  may  now  subscribe  to  the  appraisal  of  Herndon's  work  by 
a  man  who  knew  Lincoln  intimately,  second  perhaps  only  to  Herndon 
and  Lamon,  the  great  journalist  Horace  White: 

"What  Mr.  Lincoln  was  after  he  became  President  can  best  be  un- 
derstood by  knowing  what  he  was  before.  The  world  owes  more  to 
William  H.  Herndon  for  this  particular  knowledge  than  to  all  other 
persons  taken  together.  It  is  no  exaggeration  to  say  that  his  death 
.  .  .  removed  from  earth  the  person  who,  of  all  others,  had  most  thor- 
oughly searched  the  sources  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  biography,  and  had  most 
attentively,  intelligently,  and  also  lovingly  studied  his  character.  He 
was  generous  in  imparting  his  information  to  others.  Almost  every  Life 
of  Lincoln  since  the  tragedy  at  Ford's  Theater  has  been  enriched  by 
his  labors." 

— EMANITEL  HEETZ 
January  1938 


Part  One 


LETTERS 
FROM   HERNDON 


Section  One 


Springfield,  III.,  January  8,  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  have  not  published  my  two  lectures.  My  friends  got  up  condensed 
things — reports  of  them.  I  am  an  extremely  lazy  man  and  have  to  be 
kicked  to  act.  It  took  three  hours  to  read  them — and  hence  you  have 
only  seen  mere  extracts.  Many  things  were  left  out,  and  not  noticed, 
because  time  and  space,  especially  space,  in  the  papers  forbade  a 
longer  notice  of  them.  I  was  just  and  truthful  in  the  lectures — made 
no  humbug  statements  and  fussy  flourishes.  I  dearly  loved — and  now 
reverence  the  memory  of  my  dear  friend^  I  wrote  the  lectures  solely 
for  the  purpose  of  putting  him  where  he  in  fact  and  truth  and  question 
belongs.  I  have  not  any  autograph  letters  of  Mr.  Lincoln  now — gave 
all  away — am  sorry  I  cannot  accommodate  you. 

Yours  truly, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

Springfield,  III,  January  IS,  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir: 

Some  few  days  since  I  addressed  you  a  hurried  note,  stating  that  I 
had  no  "autographic  letters."  This  is  a  condensed  expression,  mean- 
ing— I  had  no  letters  with  the  signature  of  Mr.  Lincoln  attached  to 
them,  but  that  I  probably  had  other  papers  with  his  signature  at- 
tached thereto.  The  expression  saves  me  much  time — wind  and  ink. 
You  will  excuse  me,  will  you  not? — write  dozens  of  letters  weekly  on 
the  same  subject,  etc. 

Enclosed  you  will  find  a  bond  for  costs,  signed  by  Mr.  Lincoln,  which 
I  will  give  to  you.  It  is  now  the  best  thing  I  can  do — probably  the  best 
thing  you  will  get  of  anyone  at  any  time.  I  would  not  spare  this  to 
everyone,  let  me  assure  you.  I  could  have  given  it  away  a  thousand 
times.  The  signature  is  Mr.  Lincoln's  as  well  as  the  body  of  the  bond. 

I  have  been  written  to  from  the  East  notifying  me  that  my  queer 

lectures — even  in  a  condensed  form,  and  as  poor  as  they  are — will  be 

29 


30  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

published.  If  they  are  and  copies  are  sent  to  me,  I  will  send  one  to  you. 
I  ask  you  to  excuse  what  is  odd  in  me  and  my  language.  We  are  rough 
and  ready  out  here  rather  than  educated  and  polished. 

Yours  truly, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  HI.,  February  12, 1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  kind  letter  of  the  7th  inst.  is  this  moment  handed  me.  The  pa- 
pers— the  Bulletin  and  Press — are  likewise  received,  and  for  all  which 
I  thank  you.  I  wrote  to  you  a  good-natured  letter  a  few  days  since 
withdrawing  my  requests  and  now  let  me  explain.  I  sent  you  a  kind  of 
memento  of  Lincoln — namely  his  handwriting — etc.  This  fact,  I  have 
no  doubt — none  at  all — placed  you  in  feeling  kindly  toward  me.  One 
day  I  got  a  notion  in  my  head  that  I  would  get  a  notice  published  after 
about  nine  months*  toil  in  that  line.  Foolishly,  as  I  now  think,  I  asked 
you  to  do  what  you  did.  I  think  I  was  hasty  and  honestly  repented  of 
what  I  did — you  should  not  have  been  asked.  This  is  my  sole  reason  for 
doing  as  I  did  in  my  last  letter.  But  the  deed  is  done  and  let  me  again 
say — I  thank  you.  You  must  believe  me  when  I  state  the  reason  so 
frankly.  .  .  . 

I  would  be  a  thousand  times  obliged  to  you  if  you  would  send  me  the 
facts — information  you  write  about — namely  the  conversation  be- 
tween Lincoln  and  your  father.  If  you  have  any  suggestions  to  make — 
questions  to  ask  about  Mr.  Lincoln — any  peculiarity  or  specialty  of 
him  you  wish  drawn  out,  please  write  to  me  and  accommodate  mankind, 
myself  included,  as  a  matter  of  course. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

No  sermons  or  eulogies  here — curious ! 

Springfield,  III,  March  9, 1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir: 

Your  kind  and  excellent  letter,  dated  the  3d  inst .,  has  been  duly  re 
ceived.  I  thank  you  for  it ;  and  now  why  should  I  not  like  it  ?  It  contains 


LETTERS     FBOM     HERN DON  31 

valuable  information  in  several  ways — first,  it  shows  the  kind  and 
quality  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  virtues ;  secondly,  it  shows  his  unrest,  etc. ; 
thirdly,  it  shows  his  feelings  as  Executive ;  fourthly,  it  shows  discrimi- 
nation of  men ;  and,  fifthly,  wit,  etc.  I  shall  use  the  contents  with  great 
pleasure.  The  example  of  the  wit  you  send  me,  I  think  excellent.  It  is 
new  to  us. 

I  have  not  yet  spoken  to  anyone  about  publishing  my  book.  I  have 
been  written  to  by  some  but  no  arrangements  have  been  made  with 
anyone.  Have  you  any  suggestions  to  make?  The  idea  which  you  sug- 
gest about  publishing  a  list  of  sermons,  eulogies,  etc.,  is  a  good  one,  and 
should  be  done ;  and  should  you  ever  get  time  to  complete  one  I  should 
like  it  very  much.  I  cannot  tell  when  I  shall  be  ready  to  go  to  press. 
Hence  you  have  "time  on  time."  I  thought  I  should  publish,  as  ad- 
dendum, the  Program  of  Funeral  Ceremonies  here.  Your  idea  fits  in 
exactly  with  my  own. 

You  owe  me  no  apologies — as  your  letter  is  in  on  time.  By  the  by — 
did  you  get  a  letter  of  mine,  explaining  why  I  attempted  to  withdraw 
my  request  made  of  you?  The  letter  was  intended  to  show  that  I  did 
'wrong  in  making  the  request  and  for  no  other  reason  did  I  attempt  to 
withdraw  it.  I  hope  you  get  the  letter. 

We  have  had  a  kind  of  wild  excitement  here  over  the  President's  veto 
and  his  speech.  We  are  a  wild  set  of  boys  out  here  and  must  be  excused. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  EL,  April  13,  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  kind  letter,  dated  the  5th  inst .,  is  this  moment  handed  me  and 
for  which  I  am  much  obliged.  I  was  absent  on  the  "circuit" — doing  law 
duties,  etc.,  or  should  have  answered  sooner.  What  I  say  to  you  is 
always  sincere  and  as  candid  as  I  know  how  to  talk.  I  love  to  ask  others 
— love  to  get  hints  and  criticisms  and  suggestions  from  others.  Hence 
my  requests  of  you.  I  shall  be  glad  to  get  your  "Bibliography"  when 
completed.  Take  your  own  time,  friend.  I  shall  avail  myself  of  your 
kind  Suggestions  in  reference  to  the  publication  of  my  poor  little  book 
— think  your  ideas  are  correct— know  so.  Friend — I  thank  you  for 


32  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

that  too  exalted  notice  of  me.  I  do  not  know  who  wrote  it — only  guesjs 
— I  thank  you  for  your  kind  favors — and  will  try  and  repay  some 
time. 

My  dear  friend,  I  never  had  my  face  photographed — expect  I'll 
have  to  do  so  to  please  my  wife,  and  friends.  If  I  ever  do,  I  shall  send 
you  one — on  one  condition — namely — you  must  not  get  scared  at  it. 

I  have  been  out  on  law  business — doing  Circuit  Court  duty — heavy, 
laborious  work,  and  am  wearied.  I  am  going  to  Kentucky  soon  to 
search  for,  hound  down,  some  facts,  and  when  I  return  I  shall  once 
more  sit  down  to  biographical  dates.  Oh,  what  an  admirable  sweet 
good  boyish  record  "Abe"  has  left  behind,  i.e.,  his  childhood's  life  for 
the  world  to  love  and  to  imitate.  I  sincerely  wish  I  were  a  competent, 
a  great  man  to  write  my  friend's  life — but  I  can  gather  facts  and  give 
truth  to  mankind. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  June  29, 1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  26th  inst.,  is  this  moment  handed  to  me.  You 
owe  me  no  apologies,  but  as  you  offer  them,  let  me  say — all  right.  I 
am  glad  you  have  done  your  work — or  nearly  so — i.e.,  the  finishing  ef 
your  "Bibliography."  The  list  is  quite  perfect.  However,  let  me  suggest 
one  lecture.  The  title  reads  thus — "The  Life  and  Character  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln — A  Lecture  by  Hon.  Mark  W.  Delahay,  of  Leavenworth, 
Kansas."  Mr.  Delahay  is  Judge  of  the  District  Court  of  Kansas — a 
U.S.  court.  I  hold  the  lecture  in  my  hand  and  copy  the  title,  etc. — word 
for  word.  I  have  not  critically  read  the  lecture.  My  lectures  were  never 
published  in  any  way,  except  by  shorthand,  and  then  only  portions  of 
the  lectures  were  published.  The  language  and  ideas  are  correct  so  far 
as  they  go.  They  never  were  published  in  pamphlet  form.  I  intend  to 
have  my  biography  published  in  Philadelphia  or  New^  York. 

I  hope  to  write  a  correct  biography  when  it  can  be  done.  I  shall  make 
it  truthful  or  not  at  all,  and  men  shall  intuitively  feel  that  the  biog- 
raphy is  true — correct  and  fair.  The  trouble  is  very,  very  great,  I 
assure  you.  Thousands  of  floating  rumors — assertions  and  theories, 


LETTERS  TEOM  HEBNDON  33 

etc.,  etc.,  have  to  be  hunted  down — dug  out — inspected — criticized, 
etc.,  etc.,  before  I  can  write.  I  can't  scribble  on  a  sentence  without 
knowing  what  I  am  doing.  Between  you  and  I,  I  am  as  busily  engaged 
today  in  collecting  materials — times — places,  etc.,  etc.,  etc.,  as  ever — 
— am  going  to  Kentucky  in  July — in  search  of  new  and  important 
facts. 

By  the  by — in  looking  over  some  old  papers  the  other  day  I  found 
several  "representative"  letters  addressed  to  me  by  Mr.  L.  when  in 
Congress.  I  will  send  you  a  good  one  when  I  am  done — one  that  con- 
tains ideas,  views,  principles,  etc.,  etc. — good  letter.  Don't  let  me 
forget  my  promise. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

(Hope  you  will  have  a  good  time  in  Pennsylvania  at  Miller.) 


Spring-field,  III,  July  2%,  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  received  your  kind  note,  dated  the  9th  inst.,  enclosing  to  me  a  copy 
of  your  remarks  and  resolutions  on  the  death  of  the  Hon.  Lewis  Cass. 
They  seem  to  me  as  just  and  in  the  proper  spirit. 

The  lecture  of  Mr.  Delahay  is  a  broadside — your  titles  are  full  and 
complete,  and  hence  are  entirely  satisfactory  to  the  mind.  I  shall  get 
you  a  copy  of  Mr.  Delahay's  lecture,  if  possible,  and  send  to  you. 
Many  orations,  sermons,  etc.,  were  delivered  in  Illinois  on  the  death  of 
Mr.  Lincoln,  but  do  not  think  that  many  of  them  were  ever  published. 
I  have  written  to  Chicago  to  get  any  and  all  printed  lectures,  orations, 
-  sermons,  etc.,  etc.,  and  if  I  get  any  I  will  send  to  you.  Speaker  Colfax 
delivered  one  in  Chicago — soon  after  the  death  of  Mr.  L.  It  was  pub- 
lished in  the  newspapers  of  Chicago.  Others  were  delivered  but  can 
say  no  more. 

You  can  finish  your  "B[ibliography]"  when  you  wish.  A  year  will 
do  me.  So  take  your  own  time.  My  professional  business  disturbs  me — 
takes  me  off — divides  my  mind  and  I  "can't  go  fast."  I  have  many  old 
relics  of  Mr.  L.  which  I  wish  you  could  see,  and  among  them  is  a  love 
letter  which  he  wrote  to  his  sweetheart  at  the  age  of  twenty-three. 


34  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

Honor  "sticks  out"  in  it  as  in  all  his  after  life.  I  have  a  leaf  of  Mr. 
L.'s  old  copybook  made  in  1824 — when  fifteen  years  of  age.  I  wish  you 
could  see  it ;  it  is  neat — clean  and  exact  in  what  is  done — one  of  his 
characteristics.  Mr.  L.'s  life  is  a  sweet,  clear,  clean,  manly  made  life. 
The  more  I  study  it  the  more  I  like  it.  I  sometimes  thought  that  some 
of  his  peculiarities  were  things  drawn  on  for  effect,  but  letters  to 
friends — his  gentle  boyhood,  manhood,  through  all  situations,  posi- 
tions, and  conditions — are  identical — one  and  the  same — ever  honest 
and  simple  and  sincere.  His  is  a  primitive  type  of  character  that  the 
young  must  admire  and  over  whom  it  must  exercise  in  all  coming  time  a 
vast  influence.  You  once  said  to  me  that  you  thought  I  somewhat  ex- 
aggerated. In  some  particulars  I  may  have  done  so.  Will  you  please 
tell  me  where — in  what — I  see  above  the  truth  in  your  opinion?  I  shall 
be  obliged  to  you.  I  want  to  be  exactly  correct  in  my  estimate  of  Mr. 
L.  Please  say  to  me  what  you  think  and  I  promise  you  to  mend  my  mis- 
take. Come — be  candid.  I'll  admire  you  the  more  for  it. 
Won't  you  excuse  this  long  letter? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  EL,  September  1>  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  want  to  ask  a  favor  of  you,  and  it  is  this — I  want  you  to  clip  and 
to  send  to  me  from  the  leading  Philadelphia  papers  the  account  of 
Mr.  L.'s  arrival  and  doings  in  your  city — from  his  entrance  to  his 
final  departure.  Please  do  this  for  me  and  mark  which  paper  from,  so 
that  I  may  know  which  is  which.  You  will  please  give  me  the  same  in 
reference  to  Harrisburg,  if  you  can.  I  know  no  one  in  Harrisburg  and 
hence  must  bore  you.  I  must  bother  and  bore  friends,  which  I  regret — 
deeply  so. 

I  hope  and  pray  that  the  good  Union  men  now  gathering  in  your 
city  may  have  a  good  time  and  finally  meet  with  entire  success. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HEENDON. 


SETTEES     FfcOMHEBNDON  35 

Springfield,  III,  September  1%,  1866. 
Friend  Hart : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  8th  inst.,  is  this  moment  handed  to  me.  I  was 
hurried  when  I  wrote  you  and  was  not  plain  or  explicit,  I  am  afraid.  I 
wished  some  newspaper  account  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  visit  to  Philadelphia, 
and  the  conspiracy  of  Baltimore  in  February  1861.  As  Mr.  Lincoln 
passed  through  Philadelphia  in  1861  to  Washington  he  made  you  a 
speech  at  Independence  Hall.  I  wanted  an  account  of  his  reception,  etc., 
and  the  conspiracy  at  Baltimore,  given  as  editorials  by  correspondents 
of  your  papers.  I  would  not  trouble  my  friends  could  I  avoid  it.  You 
really  must  excuse  me. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

None  of  Lincoln's  friends — no  Republican — went  to  see  Johnson — 
cold  and  withering  reception. 

H. 


Springfield,  HI.,  November  1,  1866. 
Friend  Hart : 

Your  kind  letter  dated  the  29th  ult.  is  handed  to  me  at  my  desk.  I 
thank  you  for  those  two  papers  you  sent  me — had  never  seen  the 
notice  before.  .  .  . 

I  am  in  court — am  busy  indeed — yet  am  preparing  a  lecture  sub- 
stantially thus — "Lincoln,  Miss  Rutledge,  New  Salem,  Pioneers,  and 
the  Poem" — after  two  years'  labor  I've  found  out  the  history  of  the 
poem  called  "Immortality,"  in  short  here  as :  "Oh !  Why  should  the 
spirit  of  mortal  be  proud?"  The  story  is  a  fine  one  and  as  soon  as  de- 
livered will  send  you  a  copy — in  full.  I  want  no  more  short  report  of 
my  printed  lectures.  The  facts  which  I  shall  reveal,  for  the  first  time 
in  the  world,  throw  a  footlight  on  Mr.  Lincoln's  sad  life,  etc.,  etc. 
Can't  say  more — excuse  me,  won't  you?  I  have  read  notes  to  a  lady, 

Miss of  Boston,  and  hope  she  won't  reveal  till  I  get  ready ;  but 

you  know  the  world.  Again  excuse  me. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H,  HEBNDON. 


36  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Springfield,  III.,  November  16, 1866. 
Friend  Hart : 

I  sent  you  on  yesterday  evening  a  lecture  on  Mr.  Lincoln,  as  prom- 
ised. It  was,  my  dear  friend,  written  while  I  was  at  court — part  in  one 
copy  and  part  in  another.  I  claim  no  literary  power,  taste,  etc.,  but  I 
do  claim  to  possess  the  wish  to  tell  the  truth.  I  think  the  matter  good. 
Please  read  it,  form  your  opinion,  and  write  me  candidly  what  you 
think  of  it  in  the  light  herein  spoken.  If  you  see  any  comments  on  it  in 
the  papers,  please  clip  out  and  send  to  me.  I  wish  to  have  them  as  a 
guide — how  far  to  go — what  to  say,  etc.,  hereafter. 

I  hope  I  said  nothing  in  any  of  my  hurried  notes  to  you,  throwing 
cold  water  upon  your  highly  important  undertaking. 

I  am  your  friend, 
W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  BL,  November  W,  1866. 
Friend  Arnold : 

I  wrote  you  a  hasty  note  on  Saturday,  and  now  propose  to  finish 
my  defense.  You  ask  me  if  Mr.  Lincoln  was  ever  crazy  in  Menard 
County — was  insane  in  1835 ;  and  in  answer  to  which  I  say — he  was, 
as  the  people  in  that  region  understand  craziness  or  insanity,  and  I 
fear  much  worse  than  I  painted  it,  though  I  told  the  story  as  my  reason 
and  evidences  make  it — show  it,  and  see  it.  You  ask  me  if  Mr.  Lincoln 
in  fact  made  the  identical  speech  which  I  put  in  his  mouth.  He  did  not 
make  that  speech  in  words,  though  he  did  in  substance  and  spirit — just 
as  I  have  told  them. 

Again — did  you  know  that  Mr.  Lincoln  wrote  a  work — a  book  on 
Infidelity — and  that  his  friends  say  they  burnt  it  up?  Beware  that 
some  leaf  is  not  slumbering — to  be  sprung  on  you,  when  we  are  dead 
and  gone,  and  no  defense  being  made — he,  L.,  will  go  down  all  time  as 
a  writer  on  infidelity,  atheism,  etc.  How  are  you  going  to  meet  this? 
Don't  scold  and  suspicion  even  by  shadowy  vision  indirectly  your 
true  friend,  your  co-laborer,  till  you  know  all — know  it  as  I  do,  and  as 
time  will  have  it  and  make  it  irrespective  of  you  and  myself.  My  own 
present  opinion  is  that  that  book  was  written  in  1835  and  6,  written 
through  the  spirit  of  his  misery,  through  the  thought  and  idea  that 
God  had  forsaken  him,  and  through  the  echoes  of  Lincoln's  mental 


I/ETTEBS     FBOMHEBNDON  37 

condition,  suffering,  a  burden  of  wild  despair.  The  dates  as  I  nave 
them  make  the  book  before  the  crazy  spell  but  every  knowledge  of 
Lincoln  and  my  reason  tell  me  that  the  book  was  written  in  1836.  I 
am  now  in  search  of  the  facts — the  true  and  exact  facts  as  to  time, 
place,  and  persons.  Men  place  the  book  before  the  spell,  and  I  after  it. 
I  will  write  you  my  final  conclusions  about  the  facts.  Let  me  alone 
(smiling  and  good  humoredly),  I  have  my  own  work  and  mission.  I 
may  here  say,  as  I  have  said  before  to  you,  that  I  worship,  reverence 
Lincoln,  his  memory  and  fame.  I  loved  him  while  living  and  reverence 
him  now  that  he  is  dead  and  gone ;  he  was  the  best  friend  I  ever  had 
excepting  my  own  wife  and  my  mother ;  he  was  the  best  friend  I  ever 
expect  to  have,  save  mother  and  wife ;  and  I  repeat  to  you  that  I  think 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  the  best  man,  the  kindest,  tenderest,  noblest,  loveliest, 
since  Christ.  He  was  better  and  purer  than  Washington ;  and  in  mind 
he  stands  incomparable,  grandly  looming  up.  He  is  now  the  great 
central  figure  of  American  History.  God  bless  Abraham  Lincoln ! 

Again — did  you  know  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  "as  crazy  as  a  loon"  m 
this  city  In  184,1;  that  he  did  not  sit,  did  not  attend  to  the  Legislature, 
but  in  part,  if  any  (special  session  of  1841) ;  that  he  was  then  de- 
ranged? Did  you  know  that  he  was  forcibly  arrested  by  his  special 
friends  here  at  that  time ;  that  they  had  to  remove  all  razors,  knives, 
pistols,  etc.,  from  his  room  and  presence,  that  he  might  not  commit 
suicide?  Did  you  know  that  his  crazy  bout  was  partly  caused  by  that 
old  original  love  coming  in  conflict  with  new  relations  about  to  be  as- 
sumed? His  fidelity  to  it  was  sublime.  Did  you  know  that  all  Lincoln's 
struggles,  difficulties,  etc.,  between  himself  and  wife  were  partly,  if 
not  wholly,  caused  by  Mrs.  L.'s  cognition  that  Lincoln  did  not  love 
her,  and  did  love  another?  Lincoln  told  his  wife  that  he  did  not  love 
her,  did  so  before  he  was  married  to  her;  she  was  cognizant  of  the 
fact  that  Lincoln  loved  another.  Did  you  know  that  the  Hell  through 
which  Lincoln  passed  w^s  caused  by  these  things?  Mrs.  Lincoln's 
knowledge  that  Lincoln  did  not  love  her  and  did  love  another  caused 
much  trouble  between  them.  I  say,  Lincoln  told  her  he  did  not  love  her. 
The  world  does  not  know  her,  Mrs.  L.'s,  sufferings,  her  trials,  and  the 
causes  of  things.  Sympathize  with  her.  I  shall  never  rob  Mrs.  Lincoln 
of  her  justice — justice  due  her.  Poor  woman!  She  will  yet  have  her 
rewards.  All  these  facts  are  not  to  go  into  my  biography  now9  and  yet 
the  world  will  know  all  in  spite  of  your  wish  or  my  desire,  or  any  man's 


38  THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

will.  Do  you  not  know — you  ought  to  know — that  the  Chicago  Times 
and  some  mean  men  have  these  facts  stowed  away  in  their  malicious 
brains  and  desks,  and  I  propose  and  will  meet  the  facts  face  to  face 
and  modify  where  I  cannot  truthfully  deny?  Justice  to  the  dead  and 
to  all  mankind  demands  it  now  when  it  can  be  done.  Poor  man!  the 
world  knows  thee  not,  and  who  shall  defend  thee  and  set  thee  right 
before  the  world,  and  chain  and  rivet  the  deep,  eternal,  and  forever 
abiding  sympathy  of  mankind  to  thee?  My  dear  sir,  what  makes 
Europe  and  America  love  Christ?  It  is  our  sympathy  that  is  at  the 
root ;  and  shall  I  strip  Abraham  of  his  crown  and  cross?  It  is  criminal 
to  do  so.  Did  you  know  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  informed  of  some  facts 
that  took  place  in  Kentucky  about  the  time  he  was  born  (was  told  so 
in  his  youth),  that  eat  into  his  nature,  and  as  it  were  crushed  him,  and 
yet  clung  to  him,  like  his  shadow,  like  a  fiery  shirt  around  his  noble 
spirit?  Lincoln  for  more  than  fifty  long  years  walked  through  his 
furnace,  had  his  cross  and  crown.  Friend,  what's  the  cause  of  his  sad- 
ness, his  gloom,  his  sometimes  terrible  nature?  What  made  him  so 
tender,  so  good,  so  honest,  so  just,  so  noble,  so  pure,  so  exalted,  so 
liberal,  so  tolerant,  so  divine,  as  it  were?  It  was  the  fiery  furnace 
through  which  God  rolled  him,  and  yet  the  world  must  not  know  it,  eh ! 
Good  heavens !  shut  out  all  light,  freeze  up  all  human  sympathy  from 
this  sacred  man!  Never,  no,  never.  All  that  I  know  of  Mr.  Lincoln  only 
exalts  him,  brightens  and  sublimes  him,  and  will  endlessly  draw  the 
sympathies  of  all  mankind  to  him.  Kind  man,  good  man,  noble  man,  who 
knows  thy  sufferings  but  one  man,  and  God?  God  bless  thee,  thou  in- 
comparable man! 

Would  you  have  Mr.  Lincoln  a  sham,  a  reality  or  what,  a  symbol  of 
an  unreality  ?  Would  you  cheat  mankind  into  a  belief  of  a  falsehood  by 
defrauding  their  judgments?  Mr.  Lincoln  must  stand  on  truth  or  not 
stand  at  all.  This  age  is  remorseless  in  its  pitiless  pursuit  of  facts, 
and  do  you  suppose  you  and  I  can  escape  the  honest  judgments  of 
mankind?  Mr.  Lincoln  always  admitted  facts,  and  avoided  them  if  he 
could.  He  never  told  a  lie  by  suggestion  or  suppression ;  he  thought  it 
criminal;  and  shall  I  by  suggestion  or  suppression  lie?  The  man  that 
dares  now  tell  the  truth,  all  and  every  necessary  truth  in  reference  to 
Lincoln,  mankind  will  bless,  and  curse  him  that  lies.  Mark  my  words, 
friend.  All.  truths  are  necessary  that  show,  explain,  or  throw  light  on 


LETTERS  PBOM  HEBNDON  39 

Mr.  Lincoln's  mind,  nature,  quality,  characteristics,  thoughts,  acts, 
and  deeds,  because  he  guided  the  Rebellion — rather  suppressed  it — 
and  guided  the  grandest  of  Revolutions  through  its  grand  consumma- 
tion. 

We  have  had  a  great  Rebellion — ending  in  a  magnificent  Revolution. 
Mr.  Lincoln  guided  it.  Mankind  will  know  the  causes,  facts,  and  the 
relations  of  things,  if  the  truth  is  told,  and  they  will  not  if  a  lie  is  told. 
Cheat  and  delude  mankind  into  a  false  philosophy  ending  in  ruin !  My 
duty  is  to  the  ever  living  man — and  to  God — not  forgetting  my  own 
poor  self — before  the  memory  of  the  dead  that  hears  not  and  cares,  it 
may  be,  not.  Truth  is  due  mankind,  and  would  you  prefer  a  false  ideal 
character  that  you  make  by  suggestion  or  suppression  through  pen 
and  paint  above  the  real  that  God  has  made?  The  age  of  blind  hero 
worship,  thank  God,  has  gone,  and  the  worship  of  the  truth  is  coming. 
My  duty  is  to  truth,  man,  and  God.  My  mind  is  made  up,  and  nothing 
but  facts,  experiences  run  and  purified  through  reason,  shall  ever 
change  my  course. 

My  dear  friend,  all  that  is  said  is  kindly  said,  but  firmly  said. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

P.S.  Since  I  began  to  gather  -facts  nearly  two  years,  I  have  under- 
gone various  shades  of  opinion  and  belief,  and  after  two  years5  reflec- 
tion on  the  facts,  beliefs,  and  opinions  of  others,  you  now  have  my  own 
opinion  of  the  man  and  the  spirit  of  my  book.  You  may  show  this  to  as 
many  men  as  you  choose — the  more  the  better  opinion,  idea,  i.e.,  you 
will  have. 


Springfield,  III,  November  26, 1866. 
Friend  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  have  just  returned  from  Chicago,  and  now  wish  to  say  a  word  or 
two  to  you.  Enclosed  is  a  copy  of  a  letter  which  I  wrote  to  the  Hon. 
I.  N.  Arnold  of  Chicago,1  who  is  writing  a  life  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  He  is  a 
good  man,  but  I  don't  think  he  is  a  man  of  much  nerve ;  he  is  an  honest 

i  See  p.  36. 


4<0  THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

man,  yet  I  think  he  is  a  timid  man.  Now*  first  as  to  the  program  or 
place  of  things.  My  first  two  lectures,  as  you  are  aware,  were  attempts 
to  analyze  Mr.  Lincoln's  mind.  My  third  lecture  was  to  show  his 
Patriotism  and  Statesmanship.  My  second  and  third  lectures  were 
attempts  to  show  the  practical  application  of  that  mind  to  things,  etc., 
while  I  analyze  it,  etc.  My  fourth  lecture  is  an  attempt  to  show  external 
influences  on  it — material  and  mental — matter  and  mind  on  mind.  My 
fifth  lecture  is  to  be  on  his  infant  and  boyhood  education — the  means, 
methods,  and  struggles  of  it,  his  mind,  to  know  and  to  develop  itself. 
When  these  things  shall  be  done,  corrected,  annotated,  etc.,  I  think  I 
shall  have  rendered  mankind  some  five  cents'  worth  of  service.  Possibly 
they  will  so  hold.  When  these  things  are  done,  mankind  could  spare  me 
well,  I  giving  them  the  record  which  I  have  made  of  the  man  worth  one 
million  of  dollars  to  the  race. 

So  much  for  an  introduction.  After  having  read  Arnold's  letter,  my 
letter  to  him,  you  will  prick  up  your  ears.  However — you  will  now  be- 
gin to  detect  a  purpose  in  my  fourth  late  lecture,  not  guessed  at  before ; 
and  it  is  this.  Mrs.  Lincoln  must  be  put  properly  before  the  world.  She 
hates  me,  yet  I  can  and  will  do  her  justice;  she  hates  me  on  the  same 
grounds  that  a  thief  hates  a  policeman  who  knows  a  dangerous  secret 
about  him.  Mrs.  Lincoln's  domestic  quarrels  in  my  opinion  sprang 
from  a  woman's  revenge  which  she  was  not  strong  enough  to  resist. 
Poor  woman !  The  world  has  no  charity  for  her  and  yet  justice  must 
be  done  her,  being  careful  not  to  injure  her  husband.  All  that  I  know 
ennobles  both,  and  their  difficulties  sprang  from  human  nature — a 
philosophy,  if  you  please.  You  must  have  faith  in  me.  I  am  willing  to 
live  by  and  to  die  by  my  letter  to  Arnold.  The  composition  I  care  noth- 
ing about,  in  its  artistic  beauty,  but  the  substance  and  spirit  I  do  care 
for. 

Mr.  Arnold  is  afraid — that  is  the  word — that  I  shall  drop  some 
necessary  truth  that  Lincoln's  enemies  will  use  to  unholy  purposes.  I 
am  not  responsible  for  the  misapplication,  misappropriation,  or  other 
wrong  use  of  a  great  necessary  truth  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  life.  I  have  a 
sublime  faith  in  the  triumph  and  eternity  of  truth,  of  humanity,  man 
and  God;  they  will  put  Arnold,  you,  and  myself  just  where  we  belong. 
Is  any  man  so  insane  as  to  suppose  that  any  truth  concerning  Lincoln, 
or  in  relation  to  his  thoughts,  acts,  and  deeds,  will  be  hid  and  buried 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  41 

out  of  human  view?  Pshaw!  Folly!  The  best  way  is  to  tell  the  whole 
truth,  and  let  it  by  its  very  presence  and  eternity  crush  and  burn  up 
all  lies.  Let  it  "burn  to  ashes  what  it  lights  to  death." 

I  propose  as  one  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  friends  to  meet  the  slumbering 
facts,  deny  them  where  I  can,  and  modify  where  I  cannot  absolutely 
deny  them.  My  judgment,  and  I  appeal  to  mankind  in  the  future,  is 
that  if  the  matter  is  talked  over  now  the  subject  will  be  dropped  in  a 
hundred  years  or  less  from  today.  My  judgment  is — poor  as  it  may 
be — that  if  these  facts  are  concealed  from  mankind  by  his,  L.'s, 
biographers  now,  they  will  grow  and  develop  into  a  huge  ever  discussed 
lie,  bothering  and  fretting  mankind  forever.  I  know  human  nature ; 
hide  a  mouse  in  a  crack,  and  shade  it,  it  will  in  the  minds  of  men  grow 
and  expand  into  an  elephant.  So  curious  is  the  human  mind.  Glut  its 
desires  and  turn  away  a  perpetual  howl.  This  is  my  judgment ;  and  I'll 
risk  it  during  all  coming  time.  I  think  I  know  what  I  am  doing.  The 
friends  of  Mr.  Lincoln  had  better  sift  the  questions  now  and  here  while 
there  are  living  witnesses  on  the  globe  and  living  friends  ready  and 
willing  to  see  and  to  have  fair  play. 

Mr.  Lincoln  can  stand  unstaggeringly  up  beneath  all  necessary  or 
other  truths.  Timid  men  would  rob  Mr.  Lincoln  of  his  crown  and  cross, 
and  steal  the  opinions,  the  philosophy,  the  reasons  of  mankind  by  the 
robbery  of  their  judgment  and  logical  faculty  through  a  suggestion  of 
falsehood  or  the  suppression  of  the  necessary  facts  of  a  great  man's 
history. 

Please  keep  these  letters  safe  till  I  go  hence. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

P.S.  If  you  will  change  the  program  a  little  of  the  publication  of  my 
lectures,  you  will  see,  first,  the  education  of  the  infant  mind  and  its 
development;  second,  external  influences — mind  and  matter  in  it; 
third,  the  analysis  of  the  man's  mind ;  and,  fourth,  the  practical  work- 
ings of  that  mind. 

HERNBON. 

You  may  show  these  letters  to  as  many  men  as  you  please.  The  word 
suspicion  does  Mr.  Arnold  injustice.  The  word  is  fear.  Don't  publish ; 
anyone  may  copy,  though  not  to  be  published. 

HERNDOH. 


42  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

Springfield,  III,  November  %8,  1866. 
Friend  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

.  .  .  The  reason  I  chose,  made,  the  program  of  publication  that  I 
did  was  because  the  analysis  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  pure  abstract  mind  was 
an  absolute  necessity.  The  second  lecture  of  like,  but  of  inferior  neces- 
sity— less  value,  etc.,  and  so  in  the  order  of  publication.  I  don't  care 
whether  men  like  this  or  not,  nor  whether  they  like  my  lectures  or  not. 
My  day  is  tomorrow,  not  today,  and  to  tomorrow  I  appeal.  Men  have 
not  my  Lincoln  record  to  read,  to  know,  and  to  study.  Hence  they  do 
not  know  what  is  wise,  what  is  policy,  etc.,  etc.,  in  the  necessity  in- 
cluded. I  rest  easy,  calm,  and  cool.  It  is  hard  to  beat  a  man  when  the 
game  stands  three  and  three,  if  that  man  has  high-low-jack,  and  the 
game  in  his  own  hands.  So  I  laugh  and  grow  fat  when  I  see  men  fretting 
themselves  over  what  I  say. 

Now  you  are  informed  fully  of  my  present  plan,  as  to  the  five  lec- 
tures. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON, 


Springfield,  III,  December  3,  1866, 
Mr.  Cronyer. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Some  few  days  since  I  wrote  you  a  short  note  on  the  question  of  Mr. 
Lincoln's  religion.  I  did  this  at  your  request,  and  as  so  short  a  letter 
as  that  is  calculated  to  convey  any  idea,  or  no  idea,  I  propose  at  your 
request  to  state  especially  what  I  know  of  Mr.  L.'s  religion.  I  sent  you 
a  lecture  of  mine  delivered  a  week  or  so  since,  which  I  wish  you  to  con- 
sider while  reading  this.  You  will  perceive  by  that  lecture  that  Mr. 
Lincoln's  mind  was  shocked,  shattered,  by  Miss  Ann  Rutledge's  death. 
I  told  you  in  my  letter  that  Mr.  Lincoln  once  wrote  a  work  on  Infidelity 
so-called.  This  was  and  is  true.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  told  when  a  boy  some 
asserted  facts — facts  that  somewhat  disgraced  some  of  his  dear  rela- 
tives. This  story  clung  to  him  during  all  his  life,  a  fire  shirt,  scorching 
him;  he  suffered  that  one  suffering  till  1835,  when  his  love's  death 
duplicated  his  suffering.  The  facts,  as  I  can  get  them,  are  that  he  wrote 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  43 

the  book  on  Infidelity  before  1835.  But  from  what  I  know  of  Mr.  Lin- 
coln, and  his  double  cross,  I  aver  that  that  book  was  a  burst  of  despair. 
The  book  was  a  lofty  criticism,  a  high  spiritual  rationalistic  criticism, 
like,  as  I  understand  the  various  evidences,  my  own  knowledge  of  Mr. 
Lincoln  included,  Bishop  Colenso's  conclusions.  There  was  no  sneer, 
scoff,  or  ridicule  of  the  Bible  but  a  noble  looking  into  it,  and  a  char- 
itable telling  of  his  conclusions  of  its  fallibility  and  plenary  inspira- 
tion. Lincoln  wrote  under  the  idea  that  God  had  cursed  and  crushed 
him  especially.  It  is  possible  that  he  was  severer  on  the  Bible  than  I 
state.  I  give  you  my  opinion,  and  that  is  mine  from  what  I  know  of  Mr. 
Lincoln's  own  ideas  [rather]  than  from  what  others  state.  Some  men 
do  think  that  Mr.  Lincoln  did  scoff  and  sneer  at  the  Bible.  This  is  not 
so ;  he  had  no  scoff,  nor  sneer,  for  even  a  sacred  error ;  he  had  charity 
for  all  and  everything.  God  rolled  Mr.  Lincoln  through  His  fiery 
furnace  specially — that  he  might  be  His  instrument  in  the  -future.  This 
purifying  process  gave  Mr.  Lincoln  charity,  liberality,  kindness,  ten- 
derness, toleration,  a  sublime  faith,  if  you  please,  in  the  purposes  and 
ends  of  his  Maker. 

Mr.  Lincoln,  as  he  has  often  told  the  world,  had  faith  in  the  People 
and  God ;  he  has  told  you,  the  People,  that  Providence  rules  the  uni- 
verse of  matter  and  substance,  mind  and  spirit.  That  a  law  enwraps  the 
universe,  and  that  all  things,  beings,  minds,  were  moving  to  their  ap- 
pointed end.  Hence  Mr.  Lincoln  could  not  believe,  as  a  rational  man,  a 
logical-minded  one  too,  a  very  logical-minded  one,  that  the  Bible  w;as 
the  peculiar,  only,  and  special  revelation  of  God,  as  the  theologic 
Christian  world  understands  it;  i.e.,  as  they  preach  it.  He  did  not 
believe  that  «t  few  chosen  men  were  particularly,  specially,  excluding 
all  other  men,  inspired,  as  the  theologic  Christian  world  understands 
it ;  i.e.,  as  they  preach  it.  It  was  impossible  his  mind  was  so  organized 
for  him  to  see  or  believe  in  such  doctrines.  Mr.  Lincoln  did  not  believe 
in  the  Miraculous  Conception  of  Jesus,  as  the  theologic  Christian 
world  understands  that  question,  subject.  I  say  to  you  he  believed  in  a 
universal  and  an  unvarying  eternal  law  of  things.  He  holds  this  up  to 
you,  and  flares  it  always  and  everywhere  in  the  faces  of  the  people.  I 
say  to  you  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  liberal,  tolerant,  having  charity  for 
all.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  no  conception  of  forms,  rules,  formulas,  and 
technical  dogmas  in  science,  law,  or  religion.  He  really  was  deficient 


44  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

in  this  particular,  as  I  think.  Mr.  Lincoln  could  not  endure  a  discussion 
of  such  things ;  he  could  not  read  them ;  he  never  visited  wrangles  of  this 
kind. 

While  all  this  is  true,  yet  he  had  a  high  respect  for  any  man's  sacred, 
liberal,  or  other  opinion;  he  believed  in  the  absolute  necessity  of  some 
form  of  Christianity,  and  never  did,  after  reflection,  attempt  to  dis- 
turb any  man's  opinion,  obtrusively  so  at  least ;  he  loved  the  broad 
Christian  philosophy,  maxims,  sayings,  and  moral  of  Christianity, 
not  because  any  particular  man  said  them,  but  because  they  were  and 
are  great,  grand  leading  truths  of  human  consciousness,  the  highest 
and  loftiest  inductions,  deductions,  if  you  please,  of  human  reason  or 
intuitions  of  the  human  soul. 

Mr.  Lincoln's  mind  was  severely  logical ;  he  did  in  some  moods,  I 
think,  doubt  immortality ;  the  evidence  before  me  is  plain,  and  to  that 
effect,  and  yet  he  generally  believed  in  immortality ;  his  doubts  on  this 
question  were  as  follows :  he  doubted  his  precise  identity,  individuality, 
and  earthly  consciousness,  with  all  his  memories ;  he  has  said  to  me : 
"That  would  be  a  terrible  thing."  I  mean  to  say  he  said  this  substan- 
tially, and  yet  I  say  he  believed,  had  faith  in  immortality.  This  I  know 
is  denied  by  some  men  here;  i.e.,  some  men  think  that  Mr.  Lincoln 
thought  the  soul  a  mere  spirit  force,  a  mere  animo-spirit.  I  mean  by 
that  word  a  vital  force.  This  is  not  true,  for  he  himself  says  to  a 
brother  about  his  dying  father,  this :  "I  sincerely  hope  father  may  yet 
recover  his  health ;  but  at  all  events  tell  him  to  remember  to  call  upon 
and  confide  in  one  l  great,  one  good  and  merciful  Maker,,  Who  will  not 
turn  away  from  him  in  any  extremity.  He  notes  the  'fall  of  a  sparrow, 
and  numbers  the  hairs  of  our  heads,  and  He  will  not  forget  the  dying 
man,  who  puts  his  trust  in  Him.  Say  to  him  that  if  we  could  meet  now 
it  is  doubtful  whether  it  would  not  be  more  painful  than  pleasant,  but 
that  if  it  be  his  lot  to  go  now  he  will  soon  have  a  joyous  meeting  with 
many  loved  ones  gone  before  and  where  the  rest  of  us,  through  the  help 
of  God,  hope  ere  long  to  join  them.  Affectionately,  A.  Lincoln." 

This  letter,  the  original  one  written  by  Mr.  L.  to  his  stepbrother 
John  D.  Johnston,  dated  the  twelfth,  1851,  is  now  in  my  hands.  I  copied 

i  "The  word  'one'  should  be  'our,'  corrected  by  letter  to  Mr.  Cronyer  by  letter 
December  17  or  18— telling  him  to  notify,  etc.  W.  H.  H."  See  reference  to  this  in 
Herndon's  letter  to  Lamon,  February  24,  1869,  on  p.  59. 


iLETTEBS     FBOMHEK.NDON  45 

the  above  sentence,  all  there  is  on  that  subject,  from  the  letter,  my 
wife  and  I  comparing. 

This  letter  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  literally  read  and  interpreted  proves  all 
I  say  or  nearly  so.  The  underscored  words  are  not  so  italicized  in  the 
original.  I  must  be  fair.  From  what  I  have  said,  from  what  Mr.  Lincoln 
has  said  at  various  times  and  places  and  on  various  occasions,  you 
must  not  believe  all  you  hear.  Mr.  Lincoln,  in  justice  to  him,  never  said, 
while  speaking  to  the  loyal  colored  people  of  Baltimore,  of  the  Bible 
or  New  Testament,  this :  "But  for  that  Book  we  could  not  know  right 
from  wrong." 

Mr.  Lincoln,  in  my  opinion,  according  to  my  recollection,  thought 
all  evil  apparent  evil  in  the  end,  not  absolute  evil ;  he  thought  pain  in 
this  world  educative,  and  he  positively  denied  all  punishments  as  pun- 
ishment in  the  future  world ;  if  he  did  not  totally  and  entirely  positively 
deny  all  such  punishment  for  any  purposes  or  ends.  You  now  have  my 
opinion  and  best  remembrance  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  religion.  I  am  not 
afraid  that  this  letter  will  ever  be  contradicted.  Mr.  Lincoln  belonged 
to  no  church  and  believed  in  none.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  an  intensely  sincere 
and  honest  man,  and  as  Judge  Davis  said  of  him :  "When  he  was  con- 
vinced on  any  question,  when  he  believed  he  was  right,  he  acted,  and 
the  terrors  of  mob  opinion  had  no  terrors  for  him."  I  quote  Judge 
Davis  substantially.  I  agree  to  this  opinion  of  Judge  Davis,  and  now 
do  you  for  an  instant  suppose,  my  dear  sir,  that  if  Mr.  Lincoln  was 
really  a  converted  man  to  the  faith  of  three  Gods,  Revelation,  In- 
spiration, Miraculous  Conception,  and  their  necessity,  etc.,  as  some 
of  the  Christian  world  pretend  to  believe  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  that  he  would 
not  have  boldly  said  so  and  so  acted  like  a  deeply  sincere  man  and  an 
honest  one  fearlessly  of  that  mob  furor?  I  know  what  I  am  saying,  I 
think.  I  have  evidences  to  support  me.  This  letter  is  written  with  some 
little  thought  and  care,  I  confess,  and  it  is  at  your  service.  Do  with  it 
as  you  please,  except  its  present  publication.  Read  it  to  as  many  as  you 
please  and  allow  anyone  to  take  copies  or  send  copies  to  whom  you 
please. 

Truly  yours, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

P.S.     Mr.  Lincoln  never  to  my  knowledge  repudiated  his  original  little 
book ;  he  never  said  he  was  a  universalist,  Unitarian,  rationalist,  theist, 


46  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

or  what  not,  and  I  dare  not  say  what  he  was  technically.  I  will  write 
you  again  on  Holland,  Bateman,  and  such  like  men,  sayings,  and 
things,  will  give  you  a  history  of  Holland's  and  Bateman's  statement, 
etc.,  while  things  are  fresh  and  I  am  living.  Such  speeches  [as]  are  re- 
corded in  Mr.  Carpenter's  book,  page  199,  I  deem  a  farce.  Mr.  Lin- 
coln was  a  hypocrite  or  such  things  are  false. 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  December  11,  1866. 
Mr.  Carpenter. 
My  dear  Sir: 

I  duly  received  your  kind,  pointed,  and  excellent  letter,  dated  the  4th 
inst.,  and  for  which  please  accept  my  thanks.  You  interpret  me  cor- 
rectly. I  am  a  pre-Raphaelite,  i.e.,  a  lover  and  worshiper  of  exact  truth 
and  nature,  and  religiously  believe  they  should  be  followed,  the  former 
more  than  the  latter.  I  think  it  eminently  proper  in  artists  when  they 
are  about  to  embody  their  thoughts  into  form,  enwrapped  in  matter,  to 
idealize  the  idea,  the  abstract  idea,  and  so  far  you  and  I  agree.  But 
when  you  wish  to  paint  a  thing,  a  scene,  a  man,  then  follow  nature. 
Here  you  and  I  differ.  The  difference  lies  in  the  Idea  and  the  Tiling. 
Your  letter  is  manly  and  honest ;  and  in  my  estimation  you  are  lifted 
higher  than  before  it  was  written.  I  admire  your  style  of  a  man ;  and 
now  let  me  say  a  few  words  in  self-defense.  I  know,  did  know,  Mr.  Lin- 
coln well,  knew  his  sorrows  and  aspirations,  his  thoughts  and  history. 
I  know,  I  feel,  that  for,  say,  fifty  years  God  rolled  Abraham  Lincoln 
through  His  fiery  furnace.  He  did  it  to  try  Abraham  and  to  purify 
the  man  for  His  purposes.  One  of  the  things,  the  agonies,  I  shall  not 
name  and  the  other  is  the  death  of  Ann  Rutledge.  This  purifying  proc- 
ess, this  fiery  birth,  made  Mr.  Lincoln  humble,  tender,  -forbearing, 
liberal,  sympathetic  to  suffering,  kind,  sensitive,  tolerant;  broadening, 
deepening,  and  widening  his  whole  nature;  malting  him  noble  and  lovely, 

THE  NOBLEST  AND  LOVELIEST  CHARACTER  SINCE  CHRIST.  I  Can  and  have 

trailed  the  child,  boy,  and  man  day  by  day  since  February  12,  1809. 
And  now  shall  the  world  be  shut  out  of  this  temple  of  intelligence,  pro- 
hibited from  seeing  and  knowing  what  I  see  and  know  ? 

We,  America,  the  people  of  America,  have  just  passed  through  the 
greatest  rebellion  the  world  ever  saw,  ending  in  a  sublime  Revolution. 


LETTERS     FBOMHEBNDON  47 

The  future  should  know  the  facts  and  law  of  it.  They  can  only  know 
them  by  being  told  truthfully  what  they  are.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  Presi- 
dent, guided  the  ship  of  state  over  the  Rebellion  that  was  planned 
and  planted  for  thirty  years  to  wreck  it.  His  ideas,  thoughts,  methods, 
plans,  means,  and  program  formed  a  part  of  the  means,  methods,  etc., 
of  its  suppression.  His  thoughts  shot  into  acts  are  his  administration. 
To  know  the  man  well  by  nature,  as  made  by  nature,  and  modified  by 
accidents,  surroundings,  and  conditions,  including  men,  is  to  know  his 
thoughts,  and  to  a  certain  extent  the  causes  of  them  and  their  motives. 
Philosophy  is  marching  that  way;  history  will  soon  follow — so  will 
biography.  The  tendency,  nay,  it  is  a  fact  that  the  age  moves  to  a 
higher  and  grander  individuality,  through  a  higher  and  grander  devel- 
opment of  the  man.  The  tendency,  nay,  it  is  a  visible  fact  that  this  in- 
dividuality, through  development,  approximates,  is  ever  approximat- 
ing, to  absolute  truth.  In  proportion  as  this  march  is  made,  so  dies 
blind  bat-eyed  hero  worship.  We  are  marching  to  the  worship  of  Truth, 
absolute  Truth,  Right,  and  Justice. 

Three  things  enter  into  my  ideas:  first,  self-respect;  secondly,  re- 
spect for  the  dead ;  and,  thirdly,  the  People.  The, whole  truth  will  erect 
the  true  man's  true  idea.  Shall  I  suppress  or  suggest  falsehood  in  order 
to  build  up  a  false  ideal  that  the  reading  world  may  worship?  I  have 
two  plans  in  view :  one  is  to  burn  up  my  Lincoln  record — the  finest  in 
the  world  or  ever  witt  be — or  to  write  the  exact  truth  as  I  see  it.  The 
great,  keen,  shrewd,  boring,  patient,  philosophic,  critical,  and  remorse- 
lessly searching  world  will  find  out  all  things,  and  bring  them  to  light, 
and  the  question  is  now :  who  shall  do  that — a  man's  friends  or  his 
enemies  ?  Shall  it  be  done  now  or  left  for  the  future  world  to  wrangle 
over,  and  yet  forever  debate.  "Close  this  door,"  experience  cries.  The 
very  existence  of  Christ  is  denied  because  he  had  no  good  truthful  biog- 
raphers. You  have  done  much  for  Mr.  Lincoln's  memory — and  yet  I  see 
a  blank  I  would  gladly  fill.  I  want,  and  intend,  to  have  the  generous 
broad  and  deep  sympathies  of  the  universal  heart  for  good  and  noble 
Abraham.  You  see,  it  will  all  come  right.  Trust  God  and  the  People. 

What  I  said  about  Mr.  Lincoln  is  true,  and  we  cannot  dodge  it. 
Experience  says :  "Meet  it,  and  modify  the  idea  that  will  grow  to  be." 
My  philosophy  is  to  sink  a  counter  nail  and  blow  up  my  enemies — 
Lincoln's  future  traducers — and  I  do  it  for  him,  and  the  People,  who 
build  their  philosophy  of  human  history  out  of  human  thoughts,  acts, 


48  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  deeds.  Other  philosophy  now  is,  my  friend,  a  crime.  I  acknowledge 
that  what  I  said  is  calculated  to  create  a  twinge  of  nerve.  I  have 
weighed  results,  fully,  fully,  and  I  bide  my  time.  However,  what  I  said 
is  no  more  than  if  I  had  said  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  momentarily  made 
crazed  by  laughing  gas  taken  from  a  physician,  not  a  fit ;  and  you  will 
live  to  see  the  day  you  will  say  so. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  the  best  friend  I  ever  had  or  expect  ever  to  have, 
except  my.  wife  and  mother.  I  think  he  is  the  noblest  and  loveliest  man 
since  Christ — so  you  perceive  that  my  motives  are  good  whatever  may 
be  my  judgments.  I  know  I  shall  have  to  appeal  to  Time.  I  cannot  argue 
with  a  sacred  feeling;  it  is  deaf,  dumb,  blind,  and  holy.  It  must  argue 
with  itself.  Hence,  I  want  time. 

We  exist  in  the  midst  of  two  civilizations — one  in  the  North  and  one 
in  the  South.  The  one  will  try  and  make  Mr.  Lincoln  a  perfect  being,  a 
supernatural  man,  and  the  other  will  say  he  is  a  devil ;  and  so  he  will 
travel  down  all  time  misapprehended,  not  understood — and,  pray, 
whose  fault  will  it  be?  Lincoln's  friends'.  The  middle  man  is  needed. 
Hence  I  have  two  things  in  view:  first,  sympathy  for  Lincoln,  and, 
secondly,  solidity  for  his  memory.  Appeals  will  be  made  to  my  record. 
My  Lincoln's  life  is  only  a  record.  No  man  can  now  write  an  artistic 
life  of  Lincoln.  Your  life — sayings  and  doings  of  Lincoln — will  out- 
last all  the  lives  of  Lincoln  written  during  this  age.  Mark  that. 

I  am  happy  to  know  your  portrait  of  Mr.  Lincoln  by  your  friend 
Halpin  is  soon  to  be  out.  If  you  know  me  right  well  you  will  know  that 
I  speak  the  truth  when  I  say :  I  hope  you  entire  success,  and  I  believe 
you  will  get  it — catch  it.  I  shall,  my  dear  sir,  let  me  say  friend,  be 
happy  to  see  your  "proof  sheet,"  and  will  at  your  special  request  study 
it  closely  and  long  "till  it  does  grow."  I  wish  all  men  working  in  my 
line  and  path  well,  in  fact  the  whole  world  well,  but  I  must  say  especially 
all  who  wish  to  build  up  for  Lincoln  a  fame,  a  name,  a  monument  that 
time  will  itself  consecrate.  I  will,  after  having  studied  your  proof  im- 
pression sufficiently  long,  give  you  my  poor  opinion.  You  know  I  am 
no  artist,  wish  nature  had  made  me  so ;  it  has  given  me  a  desire  without 
the  faculty  of  use. 

I  am  under  many  obligations  to  you  for  your  excellent  book,  your 
Six  Months  in  the  White  House.  By  the  by,  I  do  envy  you,  did  you 
know  it?  I  must  be  honest.  The  selections  are  excellent  and  made  with 
taste.  I  hope,  I  know,  you  do  not  -father  all  that  is  said.  I  hope  it  'Vill 


LETTERS     FBOMHEB.NDON  49 

come  safe  to  hand."  If  I  ever  can  come  to  New  York  I  shall  call  and  see 
you.  This  I  promise  you  most  sacredly.  But  won't  I  get  lost  ?  And  if  I 
do,  will  you,  like  a  good  friend,  hunt  me  up?  Come,  promise  me  this  as 
condition  precedent. 

One  other  word,  you  pay  me  a  high  compliment  in  mentioning  my 
analytic  lecture,  the  one  you  refer  to  in  your  book,  and  for  which  I 
thank  you.  My  fourth  lecture,  as  Douglas  once  said  of  same  event,  "set 
me  back."  My  fourth  lecture  is  a  miscellaneous  one,  and  of  necessity 
is  in  the  telling  disjointed;  its  incoherence  lies  not  in  the  idea  but  the 
matter,  and  so  far  your  criticism  is  correct.  When  you  come  to  read 
L.'s  biography  and  see  him  more  in  and  about  New  Salem,  book  under 
arm,  pale  from  excess  of  study,  or  see  him  running  his  compass  for 
points,  courses,  distances,  with  an  eye  ever  on  bread,  you  will,  I  think, 
lift  your  criticism  from  the  incoherency  to  the  idea  of  unity  that  under- 
floats  the  lecture.  Have  faith  and  I'll  move  forward  a  little  again  in 
my  fifth  lecture,  which  I  shall  send  you,  if  I  get  time  to  write  it  out  and 
print  it.  So,  good-by.  I  hope  this  will  reach  you  Saturday  night  in  order 
that  you  may  rise  early  Sunday  morning  and  finish  it  by  "tea."  Will 
you,  my  dear  friend,  excuse  me?  If  you  have  a  wife  and  little  one  keep 
them  for  me,  and  1*11  do  ditto  here  for  you. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield*  Ill.>  December  12,  1866. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  kind  and  charming  note,  'mid  the  incongruous  notes  of  many 
curses,  etc.,  dated  the  10th  inst .  is  this  instant  handed  to  me,  and  for 
which  I  thank  you.  I  am  censured  by  some  who  do  not  and  cannot 
know  what  I  am  at.  It  takes  a  cool  philosophy  to  bear  to  be  misrepre- 
sented and  to  be  misunderstood  when  one  has  in  his  own  hands  evidence, 
proofs  that  would  instantly  allay  all ;  and  from  that  same  censuring 
throng  would  come :  "God  bless  you,  you  are  right,  go  on."  I  think  I 
can  bear  it  coolly,  calmly.  Would  to  God  the  world  knew  what  I  do,  and 
save  me  the  necessity  of  being  the  man  to  open  and  explain  all  clear 
as  the  noonday  sun !  Mrs.  Lincoln  will  scold  me,  poor  woman,  without 
knowing  I  am  her  friend,  determined  to  put  her  right  before  the  world 


50  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

for  all  time.  She  too  has  borne  her  cross,  and  she  shall  have  justice  if  I 
live.  Would  that  I  could  but  talk  to  you  one  hour.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln's marriage  was  an  unfortunate  one,  and  I  say  to  you  that  what  I 
know  and  shall  tell  only  ennobles  both— that  is  to  say,  it  will  show  that 
Mrs.  L.  has  had  cause  to  suffer,  and  be  almost  crazed,  while  Lincoln 
self-sacrificed  himself  rather  than  to  be  charged  with  dishonor.  Such 
a  man  the  world  never  saw — and  never  will  see  again,  God  bless  him — 
so  pure,  so  tender,  so  good,  so  honorable,  so  noble,  so  lovely,  the  very 
noblest  and  loveliest  man  since  this  orb  began  to  spin.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
was  shoved  through  her  furnace,  but,  poor  woman,  she  rebelled !  Lin- 
coln suffered  as  it  were  by  crucifixion  for  forty-five  or  fifty  years  ;  and 
that  process  caused  his  glory,  and  yet  the  world  doesn't,  it  seems,  want 
to  know  it.  You  have  perceived  that  I  am  not  a  very  orthodox  Christian 
and  yet  I  believe  that  Lincoln  was  God's  chosen  one. 

As  to  my  lectures,  I  am  to  publish  the  five  themselves,  as  analysis 
of  Mr.  L.  The  remainder  of  the  life  will  be  a  record  of  the  facts  of  L. — 
his  thoughts,  acts,  etc.,  etc.  This  was  my  first  idea,  and  it  remains  un- 
changed. I  may,  however,  modify  my  plan,  scheme,  or  what  not.  Can't 
now  tell.  Probably  I  shall  publish  the  analysis  this  winter,  spring,  or 
summer  coming.  I  do  love  Lincoln  and  do  respect  Mrs.  Lincoln,  and  yet 
I  suppose  there  are  men  in  the  world  who  think,  and  probably  say,  that 
I  am  actuated  by  malice,  revenge,  etc.  Let  me  say  to  you  that  Mr. 
Lincoln  did  tender  me  an  office,  a  rich  one ;  but  I  refused  it,  because  I 
did  not  want  it.  The  last  letter  he  ever  wrote  to  me  contains  this  ex- 
pression :  "God  bless  you,  says  your  friend — A.  Lincoln."  And  I  echo 
back  the  same  to  him.  Now  you  have  another  idea  and  yet  all  this  must 
not  make  me  a  coward,  and  a  liar. 

If  you  will  promise  me  as  a  friend  and  gentleman  that  you  will  never 
reveal  to  mortal  man  or  woman  what  I  shall  write  you  in  reference  to 
a  hint  in  the  Arnold  letter,  and  in  yours  of  the  10th  inst .  now  before 
me,  and  being  answered,  I'll  tell  you — conditioned  on  another  fact,  that 
you  will  burn  up  the  letter.  I  have  told  but  one  other  man  in  the  world 
and  made  him  do  as  I  require  of  you.  I  hope  you  will  not  take  this 
offensively,  for  nothing  is  intended  other  than  what  I  say. 

I  fear,  suspicion,  that  I  have  wounded  beyond  heal,  beyond  cure,  my 
good  friend  Chas.  G.  Leland.  The  lecture  did  it,  I  suppose,  for  I  have 
been  as  kind  to  him  as  I  know  how  to  be  to  any  man,  I  appreciate  his 
o-enius  and  his  character,  but  if  such  things  must  be,  so  be  it.  I  cannot 


51 

be  a  liar,  I  must  be  brave,  and  keep  my  own  self-respect,  or  sink.  I 
don't  propose  to  do  that  yet. 

By  the  by,  I  have  had  my  record  of  Mr.  Lincoln  taken  to  the  book 
bindery.  It  is  bound  in  excellent  heavy  leather,  spring  back,  strongly 
done,  etc.  The  record  makes  three  volumes,  each  the  size  of  Webster's 
dictionary  on  legal  cap.  It  has  cost  me  two  years'  hard  labor  with  all 
my  advantages,  and  they  were  not  small.  The  record  costs  in  money 
actually  paid  out  $153.  The  original  is  at  my  house,  and  a  copy  of  the 
same  is  bound,  and  in  bank  vaults  beyond  fire.  If  I  should  die,  the  record 
is  safe.  It  explains  all  fully,  each  assertion  backed  by  written  vouchers, 
evidences  of  good  men  and  women  in  Kentucky,  Indiana,  Illinois,  and 
other  places,  men  and  women  whom  I  know.  I  have,  say,  two  hundred 
or  more  of  L.'s  letters,  in  the  record,  etc.  Pardon  me. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 


Springfield,  EL,  December  28,  1866. 
Friend  Hart : 

Your  kind  and  encouraging  letter,  dated  the  24th  inst.,  is  received, 
and  for  which  please  accept  my  most  sincere  thanks.  I  have  not  deter- 
mined absolutely  in  publishing  my  five  lectures  by  themselves,  am 
doubtful  of  the  propriety  of  such  a  course  myself.  I  will  walk  cau- 
tiously, talk  to  friends,  etc.  I  am  really  happy  to  hear  that  friend 
Leland  is  as  ever.  Say  to  him  for  me:  "Leland,  success  to  your  new 
undertaking."  I  shall  be  very  glad  to  hear  F.  W.  Smith's  statement 
about  the  case  of  Smith  &  Bros.  In  reference  to  collecting  Lincoln's 
letters,  speeches,  state  papers,  etc.,  etc.,  I  have  really  thought  about 
it  and  suggested  it  to  Judge  Davis,  who  said :  "I'll  think  about  the  mat- 
ter and  tell  you  what  to  do." 

Mr.  Lincoln  is  hard  to  get  at — i.e.,  it  will  take  so  much  talk,  ex- 
planation, etc.,  to  get  him  properly  before  the  world,  that  I  almost 
despair.  He's  a  good,  great,  noble  man,  the  great  unknown  just  now. 
He  is  the  finest  character  made  since  the  world  began  to  spin — at  least 
one  of  the  very  finest.  Don't  think  me  crazy. 

Now  as  to  what  you  desire.  Mr.  Lincoln  is  a  sad,  sad,  melancholy 
man.  This  is  so  organically,  or  functionally,  caused  by  conditions, 
etc.  It  is  partly  organic  and  partly  functional  caused  by  conditions.  In 


52  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

the  first  place  his  grandmother  was  a  halfway  prostitute — not  a  com- 
mon one,  as  I  understand  the  facts.  I  say  this  is  truth,  for  Mr.  Lincoln 
told  me  so.  Mr.  Lincoln's  mother  was  an  illegitimate.  This  is  truth,  for 
Mr.  L.  told  me  so.  As  a  matter  of  course  Mr.  L.  knew  this.  It  saddened 
his  own  mother,  and  it  saddened  Lincoln — sadness  more  or  less  has 
been  stamped  on  him.  Again — and  what  is  worse — Mrs.  Lincoln,  A. 
Lincoln's  mother,  -fell — fell  in  Kentucky  about  1805 — fell  when  un- 
married— fell  afterward.  Thomas  Lincoln  left  Kentucky  on  that  ac- 
count; and  for  no  other  as  I  understand  the  story.  There  can  be  not 
much  doubt  of  this  as  I  now  think,  and  yet  there  is  room  for  mistake.  I 
am  going  to  Kentucky  to  search  this  whole  matter  to  the  bottom,  and 
if  false  I  shall  scare  some  wicked  men,  I  assure  you.  I  must  get  abso- 
lutely right  myself  before  I  dare  open.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  informed  of  all 
this ;  probably  it  was  thrown  up  to  him  in  Indiana  and — don't  know  it 
— have  heard  so.  As  a  matter  of  course  in  so  sensitive  a  soul  as  Lincoln's 
it  burned  its  way  and  left  him  a  withered  melancholy  man.  Good 
heavens,  what  a  world !  Poor,  patient,  suffering,  cross-bearing,  sublime 
Lincoln !  Did  not  God  roll  him  through  His  furnace?  Take  all  this,  and 
the  Ann  Rutledge  scrape,  condition ;  and  you  will  perceive  that  Lin- 
coln's work  on  infidelity — burnt  up  by  friends — was  a  blast,  Job-like, 
of  despair.  Now  does  not  melancholy  drip  from  the  poor  man?  Mrs. 
Lincoln,  Lincoln's  wife,  I  think,  knew  much  of  this — think  Lincoln  re- 
vealed it  to  her,  and  hence  in  part — Hell,  Hell.  Good  Lord,  will  the 
world  have  a  wide,  a  sublime,  charity  for  all !  Do  you  not  see  Lincoln's 
Christ-like  charity,  liberality,  toleration,  loom  up  and  blossom  above 
all?  Who  could  have  survived  but  Lincoln — the  great,  good,  strong, 
noble,  God-loved  man?  This  is  no  disgrace  to  Lincoln.  He  is  the  creator 
of  the  House  of  Lincoln — the  architect  of  the  Lincoln  fame,  wo  rid- wide 
and  eternal.  What  an  honor !  Democratic  institutions — what  a  Justice, 
what  a  Right,  what  a  Power  and  Glory  they  are !  Now  open  your  elo- 
quence on  the  power  of  the  individual  man  to  rise  above  conditions  and 
of  democratic  institutions  as  guardian  of  fair  play  in  the  Eternal 
Right.  I  wish  I  were  an  inspired  man,  even  an  eloquent  man,  but  I  am 
dumb  in  presence  of  the  sublimity  of  Right. 

Please  hide  this  away  or  burn  it,  keep  it  a  dead  secret,  I  think  the 
editors  and  devils  of  the  Chicago  Times  have  the  bad  side  of  these  facts 
and  intend  to  flash  them  on  mankind  when  we  are  dead  and  gone.  That 
paper  said  about  eight  months  since :  "Beware,  you  Lincoln  men !  I'll 


Isaac  N.  Arnold 

Collection  of 

Harry  MacNeiU  Bland 


HERNDON'S 
CORRESPONDENTS 


Charles  H.  Hart 

Collection  of 
Harry  MacNeill  Bland 


In  1860 

Courtesy  of  the  Henry  E. 
Huntington  Library 


WILLIAM   H. 
HERKDON 


In    1888 

Collection  of 
Frederick  PI.  Mescrve 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDOK  53 

spoil  your  hero."  You  have  now  the  philosophy  of  my  drifting,  my 
counter  minds,  etc.,  etc.  When  you  hear  men  scolding  me,  please  say 
to  them :  "Do  you  know  what  you  are  talking  about?  Have  faith  in  the 
only  man  who  knows  what  to  do  to  hedge,  dodge,  explain,  modify,  or 
deny,  etc."  Excuse  this. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  El,  January  1%,  1867. 
Friend  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  kind  letter,  dated  the  7th  inst.9  is  just  handed  to  me.  I  regret  to 
hear  of  your  sickness,  but  glad  you  are  recovering.  Quit  handlicks[?]> 
go  to  play,  and  cease  your  wear  and  tear  of  soul.  No  man  knows  how 
to  reply  to  what  I  told  you — except  this :  "It's  all  a  lie" — saving  what 
Lincoln  told  me.  I  am  going  to  Kentucky  myself  and  look  into  the  eyes 
of  men  and  women,  watch  their  features,  investigate  their  motives, 
inquire  into  their  characters,  opportunities,  veracity,  etc.,  etc.,  thor- 
oughly, well,  to  the  bottom  and  below  the  bottom,  if  I  can  go  below. 
There  is  some  mistake  as  to  identity,  or  something,  and  1*11  find  it  out 
and  expose  those  engaged  in  it.  I  am  decided  on  this,  cost  what  it  may — 
even  life.  I  feel  that  there  is  a  wrong  somewhere,  but  can't  tell  you  now. 
The  Chicago  Times  has  got  what  I  tell  you  and  has  said :  "Beware  how 
you  Lincoln  worshipers  blow  your  man.  We'll  sink  him."  This  is  true. 
I  never  tell  you  anything  that  is  not  ditto.  I  hated  to  say  what  I  did  of 
Holland,  but  he  treated  me  so  shabbily  that  I  couldn't  help  it.  I  am 
"cussed"  a  good  deal  by  men,  little  things,  that  can't  understand  me, 
and  prefer  that  to  opening  to  the  world  just  now  my  plans.  I  am  the 
only  man  in  the  world  who  knows  how  to  defend  Lincoln  and  yet  I  am 
"cussed"  by  those  who  are  his  friends.  I  can  bear  it  all  and  look  to 
time.  So  far  as  I  am  concerned  I  don't  care  how  Lincoln  came  into  the 
world ;  the  lower  he  was  created,  the  higher  and  grander — looking  at 
all  things — to  me  he  is.  I  am  a  broad,  liberal,  tolerant  man.  God  bless 
Abraham  anyhow. 

When  I  spoke  of  making  these  revelations  to  the  world  I  did  not  in- 
tend to  tell  what  I  write  you,  only  a  part  of  it  in  very  indirect  language, 
by  hints,  saying  that  some  of  the  near  and  dear  relatives  of  L.  so 


54  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

acted  as  to  crush  the  soul  of  Abraham.  This  was  all.  I  intended  boldly 
to  deny  all  insinuations  not  told  me  by  Lincoln,  not  saying  or  hinting 
where  I  got  the  information.  I  will  get  it  all  right,  so  that  I  can  swear 
to  it  and  then  expose  all  concerned.  Have  faith.  .  .  . 

Your  f  riend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Mrs.  Catherine  H.  Dale  is  the  author  of  the  letter  you  speak  about. 
I  did  not  see  it  till  published — should  rather  she  had  said  nothing,  let- 
ting time  make  my  defense.  However,  it  is  all  substantially  true  and 
correct. 


Spring-field,  111.,  March  2, 1867. 
Mr.  Hart. 
My  dear  Sir : 

.  .  .  You  state  that  many  papers  are  speaking  hard  of  me.  So  be 
it.  What  they  do  say,  good  or  evil,  does  not  move  me  in  the  least.  They 
do  not  know  me,  my  plans,  my  motives,  etc.,  and  hence  all  they  do  say  is 
foolish,  or  shrewd  guesses.  If  I  had  all  such  men  in  a  pen,  I  could  point 
out  to  you  certain  brand  marks  such  as  "hero  worshiper,"  "orthodox 
Christian,"  "grumblers,"  "jealousy,"  etc.  What  have  I  done  but  tell 
the  truth?  Why  speak  hard  words  of  him  who  loves  and  tells  the  truth 
fearlessly?  If  truth  disturbs  our  conception  of  things,  falsehood  is 
preferable  when  it  confirms  the  conception.  Do  such  whiners  and  com- 
plainers  expect  to  stop  the  genius  of  investigation  in  the  race  of  man? 
Folly !  Every  important  fact  of  Mr.  L.  shall  be  known,  come  what  will. 
I,  my  friend,  can  afford  to  be  misunderstood  and  abused,  have  expected 
it,  and  do  now  expect  it.  No  true  man  ever  lived  that  was  not  abused. 
Why  should  I  hope  to  escape?  Hope  is  folly  to  me  in  this  matter.  I  feel 
this  way  I  tell  the  truth,  love  all  men,  have  in  my  own  hands  unim- 
peached  and  overwhelming  evidence  of  all  I  shall  say  or  utter.  I  shall 
do  no  man  any  harm,  all  men  justice,  the  living  and  the  dead.  I  shall 
have  truth  on  my  side,  justice,  and  a  good  conscience.  So  "let  9em  rant." 
My  records  of  Mr.  Lincoln  shall  go  down  the  files  of  time,  if  I  have  to 
send  them  to  England,  Russia,  unless  confiscated  by  false  men  and 
burned  before  landing,  etc.  If  the  people  are  misled  it  shall  not  come 
from  me,  nor  my  side  of  the  house.  I  did  address  someone  in  Philadel- 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  55 

phia  a  hasty  private  note,  etc.,  on  the  Lincoln  and  Douglas  debates, 
did  speak  the  truth,  as  I  know  it  to  exist. 

The  letter  from  this  city  to  the  New  York  Tribune  some  time  since 
was  written  by  a  Mr.  Townsend  of  the  Tribune  office,  as  I  understand. 
The  gentleman  lectured  here,  and  suppose  he  wrote  the  letter — don't 
know  it.  People  must  be  hard  run  "to  run  up  against"  an  anonymous 
letter!  The  letter  contains  a  sentence  which  surprises  you.  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's own  mother  was  a  woman  of  very  strong  mind ;  it  was  not  only 
strong  but  it  was  quick.  She  was  a  child  of  some  high  blood  rake  in 
Virginia,  not  from  a  common  man.  When  Lincoln  spoke  to  me  as  he 
did,  he  had  reference  to  his  mother's  mind,  nothing  else,  and  it  was  thus 
I  told  it.  Letter-writers  are  not  particular,  catch  an  idea  by  halves 
and  then  open.  It  is  a  fact  that  Nancy  Hanks,  Lincoln's  mother,  was  a 
superior  woman  in  mind.  There  is  no  doubt  of  this,  and  it  was  of  that 
phase  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  that  her  son  spoke  to  me ;  and  the  evidence  before 
me  is  overwhelming  on  that  special  phase.  As  to  morals,  that  is  another 
question. 

Arnold's  book  is  out ;  have  not  read  it,  and  therefore  can't  give  you 
an  opinion  of  it ;  wish  it  was  good,  wish  it  well,  etc.  I  wish  there  were  a 
hundred  lives  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  each  excellent,  and  looking  out  of  dif- 
ferent eyes,  etc. 

Hope  you  are  well  before  this  running,  rambling  and  tedious,  as  well 
as  uninteresting  letter  reaches  you. 

Your  friend, 
W,  H. 


Springfield,  III.,  December  18,  1867. 
Friend  Lamon: 

Today  I  send  you  my  three  lectures.  None  was  ever  published,  only 
stenographed  in  part  by  friends.  The  one  on  Lincoln's  patriotism,  etc., 
was  never  in  any  part  published  or  stenographed,  so  is  new  to  you.  I 
send  other  things  as  promised,  more  too  than  promised.  Today  I  send 
two  letters  of  Lincoln  which  I  forgot  to  send  in  the  other  bundle.  Pub- 
lish them  in  your  biography.  The  "Lincoln  Shields  duel"  will  now — 
after  reading  what  I  send  you — be  plain  and  clear.  Give  it  fully.  Mon- 
day I  will  send  you  some  briefs  of  Mr.  Lincoln  on  some  important  suits 


56  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

in  the  Supreme  Court  and  Sangamon  Circuit  Court.  They  are  good.  No 
legal  speeches  ever  made  by  Mr.  Lincoln  were  ever  published  that  I 
now  recollect  of ;  will  send  if  I  find  out  any  in  my  scribbles  through 
old  musty  papers,  speeches,  and  records ;  will  send  you  everything  I 
think  worthy,  etc.  With  the  papers  sent  today  are  two  little  memoran- 
dum books.  Hold  them  secret  and,  secondly,  private  except  to  you 
and  "corps"  of  literary  friends.  The  same  with  much  of  the  records.  Be 
careful  and  judicious  in  all  things.  I  hold  myself  responsible  to  you 
for  the  truthfulness  of  my  record  to  the  extent  that  the  copies  are  true, 
faithful  and  genuine,  made  out  from  the  originals.  You  judge  among 
the  conflict  of  things  who  tells  the  truth ;  I  do  not  guarantee,  nor  say, 
nor  insist,  that  every  man  or  woman  in  that  record  tells  the  truth. 
Reconcile  all  if  you  can.  Follow  your  own  good  judgments. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  November  87,  1868. 
Friend  Hart : 

I  wish  to  ask  of  you  a  favor,  and  it  is  this :  I  want  to  borrow,  say, 
$8000  on  five  years'  time,  interest  payable  annually,  or  semi- annually 
if  it  must  be  so.  I  will  secure  the  money  by  mortgage  on  three  hundred 
acres  of  land,  free  from  all  incumbrances,  land  worth  per  acre  $50  or 
$75,  lies  five  miles  from  this  city  and  within  two  miles  of  the  Chicago 
Alton  etc.  R.R.  I  can  get  money  here  in  short  time  but  it  don't  do  me 
any  good.  See  for  me  some  of  your  monied  men,  institutions,  trustees, 
guardians,  etc.,  and  ascertain  if  the  money  can  be  had.  I  am  worth 
$50,000,  am  farming,  raising  stock,  planting  orchards,  etc.,  etc. 
Please  assist  me. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Section  Two 


Springfield,  III,  February  17,  1869. 
Ward  H.  Lamon. 
My  dear  Sir : 

When  you  spoke  to  me  about  my  records — facts  and  manuscripts  of 
Mr.  Lincoln — I  was  not  prepared  to  speak.  In  fact  was  taken  aback. 
However,  I  am  glad  that  I  could  not  then  speak,  because  I  do  not 
think  you  know  the  amount,  value,  and  importance  of  the  records, 
facts,  etc.,  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  life,  got,  collected,  and  transcribed  by  me* 
I  have  been  about  three  years  in  collecting,  comparing,  and  analyzing 
the  facts  of  Mr.  L.'s  life.  I  have  paid  for  the  facts  on  visits,  trips,  etc., 
in  Illinois  and  Indiana  and  in  various  counties  of  both  States  more  than 
a  thousand  dollars.  The  facts  and  opinions,  statements,  etc.,  in  refer- 
ence to  Mr.  Lincoln  have  been  got  from  gentlemen  and  ladies  of  in- 
dubitable veracity  in  Kentucky,  Indiana,  and  Illinois,  not  omitting 
Virginia.  My  records,  facts,  etc.,  are  broad,  sweeping,  and  critical, 
looking  at  good  sides — and  bad  ones — perfect  sides  and  imperfect 
ones.  I  took  facts,  not  fancies.  Took  truth  as  my  guide,  not  falsehoods 
as  suggested  by  hero  worshipers  or  hero  haters.  I  have  got  the  un- 
doubted facts  of  his  boyhood — his  infancy  included — have  got  his 
manhood  history  as  it  was  acted  by  Mr.  Lincoln.  I  had  advantages 
over  all  other  men  in  knowing  the  facts  of  Mr.  L.'s  life — knew  where 
to  go,  whom  to  see,  what  to  get  out  of  each  woman  and  njan,  and  what 
strings  to  pull.  I  have  got  Mr.  Lincoln's  love  letters  written  to  a  lady 
now  living  in  Missouri,  written  soon  after  the  death  of  the  loved  Ann 
Rutledge.  I  think,  in  fact  I  know,  that  my  records,  facts,  manuscripts, 
etc.,  of  Mr.  Lincoln  are  the  most  perfect  on  record.  He  who  writes  a 
biography  of  Mr.  Lincoln  from  my  facts  writes  the  only  true  life  of 
the  good  and  great  man  that  can  by  any  possibility  be  written  now  or 
in  the  future.  There  is  a  fortune  in  the  records,  etc.,  when  put  in  the 
shape  of  a  biography.  I  keep  the  originals  at  my  own  private  house 
under  lock  and  key.  I  keep  copies  put  up  in  bound  volumes  in  the  First 
National  Bank  for  safety.  I  have  three  large  bound  volumes,  besides 
other. matter,  probably  enough  to  make  another  smaller  volume,  say 
one-half  or  one-third  the  size  of  the  larger  ones.  I  have  written  some 

57 


58  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

four  lectures  on  Mr.  Lincoln ;  some  went  to  Europe,  etc.,  though  never 
fully  published,  simply  stenographed  in  part;  have  various  notes, 
memoranda,  etc.,  including  some  pictures  of  the  customs,  habits,  etc., 
of  the  West,  i.e.,  pen  sketches  of  our  people  and  customs,  habits,  etc. 
All  these  are  at  your  disposal,  use,  etc.,  if  you  and  I  can  come  to  some 
conclusions  as  to  terms,  etc.  I  will  sell  out  to  you,  agreeing  to  write 
nothing  about  Mr.  Lincoln  for  ten  years,  probably  reserving  a  right 
to  deliver  a  lecture  or  two  on  Mr.  Lincoln  to  our  own  people  here,  not 
elsewhere.  Ward,  there  is  fame  in  this,  there  is  money  too,  my  good 
friend. 

Though  this  letter  is  private,  you  may  show  it  to  whom  you  please, 
nothing  further,  remember.  I  shall  write  to  you  again,  am  now  busy  in 
court. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  February  84,  1869. 
Mr.  Hart. 

My  dear  Friend : 

Your  very  kind  letter,  dated  the  18th  inst.,  is  at  hand,  and  for  which 
please  accept  my  thanks.  .  .  .  Some  few  days  since  a  gentleman  from 
Washington  came  into  my  office  and  wished  to  purchase  my  manu- 
scripts, notes,  memoranda,  and  facts  in  relation  to  Lincoln's  life,  the 
contemplated  one.  I  have  been  gathering  facts,  etc.,  for  three  years ; 
have  spent  about  $1800  in  traveling  to  Indiana,  parts  of  Illinois,  etc., 
gathering  up  the  facts ;  and  I  think  I  may  say  to  you  that  no  man 
can  write  a  lasting  life,  a  good  standard  biography  of  President  Lin- 
coln without  my  memoranda,  etc.  As  you  are  aware,  I  had,  fortunately, 
superior  advantages  over  most  men  in  knowing  facts  and  where  to  go, 
and  to  whom  to  go,  etc.  Now  what  I  wish  is  this — give  me  your  opinion, 
after  consulting  friends,  bookmakers,  and  sellers  among  others,  as  to 
the  value  of  the  memoranda ;  what  a  man  ought  to  pay  for  them  or  the 
use  of  them.  Fame  and  money  are  the  rewards  of  him  who  writes  a 
standard  biography  of  President  Lincoln. 

I  may  not  sell,  may  finish  the  life  myself,  can't  tell. 

As  to  a  letter  from  President  Lincoln  to  me  or  to  others,  I  fear  [it] 


LETTERS    FBOMHEBNDON  59 

is  out  of  my  power  to  give.  I  have  something  which  is  more  sacred.  It  is 
his  boyhood  copybook,  arithmetical  sum  book,  etc.,  the  leaves  of  which 
I  will  distribute  to  my — rather  Mr.  Lincoln's — friends  as  soon  as  I  get 
through  with  the  book.  Will  never  forget  you.  Excuse. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  February  %h  1869. 
Friend  Lamon : 

Judge  Logan  has  just  handed  to  me  your  letter  in  which  you  make 
certain  requests,  etc.  I  shall  answer  it  in  full  as  soon  as  I  get  time.  You 
may  use  such  parts  of  my  lectures  in  your  book  as  you  please,  giving 
me  credit,  etc.,  if  you  wish.  I  think  I  said  so  to  you  verbally,  and  I  stick 
to  what  I  say.  I  have  no  confidence  in  Dennis  Hanks,  Bill  Green,  and 
some  others.  They  may  be  correct  or  may  not.  The  other  Hanks — 
John — I  believe  in,  think  him  a  good  man  and  a  truthful  one,  but  does 
not  always  know.  He  is  interested  in  covering  up  the  general  lechery 
of  the  Hanks  and  Lincoln  family.  Mr.  Lincoln  told  me  himself  that  his 
mother  was  a  bastard,  a  child  of  a  Virginia  nabob.  Mr.  Lincoln's 
mother  was  a  Hanks.  .  .  . 

I  have  no  promises  to  anyone  but  to  Miss  Owens — you  can  give  her 
maiden  name,  though  not  the  married  name.  As  to  Bateman,  he  says  I 
must  not  publish  anything  he  said.  I  will  send  you  a  letter  on  Lincoln's 
religion  in  a  day  or  so.  ... 

Your  publisher  is — well — well — very  anxious  for  something  that 
will  do  him,  nor  you,  any  good.  I  have  in  my  opinion  sent  you  all  that 
can  do  you  any  good  and  more  than  I  thought  I  ever  should ;  still,  I  will 
send  you  all  the  original  papers  and  you  can  pick  out  and  scan  them 
for  yourself. 

I  withdrew  a  letter  from  the  Reverend  Mr.  Conger  because  there  was 
a  mistake  in  it.  Lincoln's  letter  reads  "our"  and  I  put  it  "one  God"  by 
mistake  and  hence  withdrew  the  letter. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBOTON. 

Green  is  not  a  liar,  but  a  blow,  a  "hifalutin"  exaggerator,  etc., 
— good  clever  fellow  for  all  that. 


60  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Springfield,  III.,  February  26,  1869. 
Friend  Lamon. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  23d  inst.,  is  this  moment  handed  to  me.  There 
is  one  expression  in  your  letter  which  I  wish  to  correct,  and  it  is  this : 
I  have  no  biography  as  yet  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  only  sketches,  manuscripts, 
lectures,  facts,  opinions,  etc.  I  wish  to  correct  your  idea  at  the  start 
that  I  have  a  biography.  I  have  written  some  few  things  for  my  own 
pleasure,  and  the  pleasure  of  my  friends,  no  connected  history.  My 
record,  manuscripts,  facts,  etc.,  come  in  in  their  proper  place,  order, 
and  time.  For  instance  the  Virginia  facts  come  first  in  the  record,  then 
the  Kentucky  facts,  then  the  Indiana  facts,  then  the  New  Salem  facts, 
and  then  the  Springfield  facts — the  Illinois  facts  generally.  As  I  had 
the  facts  gathered,  I  had  a  clerk  to  transcribe  them  in  order  in  a  bound 
volume  written  on  our  clerk's  paper — say  the  record  is  between  three 
and  four  reams  of  paper,  large  size.  The  biographer  has  all  the  facts 
before  him  in  order  in  the  record  before  him.  All  he  has  to  do  is  to  take 
my  records  and  open  them  and  read,  know,  analyze,  and  recombine  the 
facts,  etc.,  etc.,  and  write.  That  is  all  he  has  to  do.  I  think  there  is 
perfect  order  and  arrangement.  Possibly,  probably,  I  had  better  say 
that  some  few  facts,  papers,  are  out  of  order ;  few,  very  few  if  any  is 
out  of  order,  I  may  say.  I'll  make  the  world  pay  for  these  records  some 
time.  They  are  the  most  perfect  of  any  living  or  any  dead  man — prob- 
ably Johnson's  biography  by  Boswell  excepted.  Since  you  have  men- 
tioned this  subject  to  me  I  ought  to  say  to  you  as  a  friend  that  I  had 
a  proposition  once  to  buy  my  records,  have  the  same  proposition  now 
before  me.  This  much  I  thought  due  you  and  I  so  state  it.  If  you  do  not 
buy,  I  probably  shall  finish  my  biography  in  a  year  or  so,  can  do  it, 
wish  to  do  it.  Lamon,  strange  as  it  may  appear  to  you,  let  me  say :  I 
do  not  covet  fame  or  wealth !  Hence  I  am  in  no  hurry  to  complete  the 
biography.  I  need  kicking,  scolding,  "cussing,"  etc.,  in  order  to  make 
me  trot  along  briskly  with  head  up  and  tail  up,  gaily  snorting  along 
the  great  road  of  life.  I  should  like  to  see  your  biography  when  finished, 
like  to  read  'em  very  much.  I  guess  your  facts  of  Mr.  Lincoln  since  1860 
are  full  and  complete.  My  facts  of  Mr.  Lincoln  from  the  womb  to  land- 
ing at  Washington,  "as  the  gal  says,"  is  more  so.  Lamon,  I  should  pre- 
fer to  sell  out  horse,  foot,  etc.,  than  to  do  otherwise.  I  want  money, 
money ;  still,  if  you  have  no  money,  you  can  have  without  money  on  time 


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FACSIMILE  OF  A  LETTEE  TO  LAMON 


FBOMHEBNDON  61 

making  me  safe,  etc.,  etc.,  and  paying  down  some  few  dimes,  so  that  I 
can  pay  my  debts.  Am  in  court  writing  under  calls  from  clients,  amidst 
Edwards's  speech  before  the  jury,  on  a  criminal  case.  How  he  howls 
morals  and  religion — bah ! 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  March  17,  1869. 
Friend  Lamon. 
My  dear  Sir : 

After  consulting  with  friends  in  New  York,  Philadelphia,  and  at 
home,  I  have  come  to  the  conclusion  to  make  you  an  offer ;  it  is  this : 
I  will  take  $4000  for  my  facts,  memoranda,  manuscripts,  etc.,  that  is 
to  say,  their  use  till  you  finish  your  biography.  Give  me  $2000  down  and 
secure  the  other  $2000  in  one  and  two  years,  drawing  10$  per  annum 
from  date  till  period.  I  worked  three  years — and  hard  work  at  that — 
lost  time  in  going  to  Indiana  and  other  places,  spent  about  $1800, 
and  lost  my  office  business  during  the  lost  time,  etc.,  hired  a  copyist  to 
record  what  I  gathered,  paid  bookbinders  to  bind  the  volumes,  etc.  I 
may  say  to  you  that  the  records  will  be  worth  $10,000  to  you  or  any 
man  who  writes  Mr.  Lincoln's  biography.  If  you  conclude  to  take 
them,  you  may  publish  to  the  world  that  you  have  purchased  the  use 
of  my  records  of  the  great  President.  This  will  give  you  force,  give 
your  biography  value,  etc.,  etc.  Again,  I  want  it  understood  that  no 
word  is  to  be  erased,  changed,  no  leaf  torn,  no  mutilations,  no  altera- 
tions, interlineations,  etc.,  of  the  records — want  them  returned  to  me 
when  you  are  done  with  them  in  the  exact  order  and  condition  you  re- 
ceived them,  wear  and  tear  in  their  careful  use  only  excepted.  They 
shall  stand  as  your  witness  to  the  end  of  time.  May  I  say  to  you  that, 
since  I  have  been  talking,  etc.,  advising,  etc.,  about  this  business, 
others  will  take  the  records  if  you  do  not  want  them? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  September  17, 1869. 

I  have  this  day  sold  to  W.  H.  Lamon  of  Washington,  D.C.,  my  Lin- 
coln records  in  three  volumes  for  the  consideration  of  four  thousand 


62  THE     HIDDEN 

dollars  cash  in  hand  paid.  He  is  now  the  sole  owner  and  possessor 
of  said  records  and  is  empowered  and  authorized  by  me  to  sell,  pub- 
lish, use,  or  dispose  of  said  records  as  he  wishes  or  will.  Lamon  prom- 
ises to  use  discretion  and  good  judgment  as  to  what  shall  be  published, 
sold,  or  made  public  at  the  present  time. 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  February  12,  1870. 
Friend  Hart : 

Your  note,  dated  the  8th  inst.,  is  this  instant  handed  to  me,  and  in 
answer  to  your  questions  let  me  say :  Mr.  J.T.  Stuart  was  Mr.  Lincoln's 
first  partner — "Stuart  &  Lincoln."  This  partnership  began  in  the 
summer  of  1837  and  lasted  about  two  years.  The  next  firm  of  which 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  partner  was  "Logan  &  Lincoln."  Hon.  S.  T.  Logan 
was  Mr.  Lincoln's  second  partner.  This  partnership  began  about  1840 
and  ended  about  1843.  The  third  firm  of  which  Mr.  Lincoln  was  one 
was  "Lincoln  &  Herndon."  This  firm  began  in  1844  and  ended  the  day 
Mr.  Lincoln  died.  I  am  Mr.  Lincoln's  third  partner.  Mr.  Lincoln  had 
no  other  partners  than  the  above  to  my  knowledge. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  February  25,  1870. 
Friend  Lamon : 

I  have  always  been  averse  to  the  use  of  my  evidence  in  the  world  of 
matter  or  of  man,  hate  to  see  my  name  stuck  up  ...  in  any  way,  in- 
stinctively shrink  from  publicity,  notice,  or  flattery.  But  as  you  de- 
mand my  information,  I  shall  give  you  from  time  to  time  some  facts, 
some  information,  I  sent  you  some  days  since  more  at  the  request  of 
Mrs.  Armstrong' than  of  myself  a  short  account  of  what  I  had  to  say 
on  Lincoln's  "house  divided  against  itself"  speech,  should  not  have  sent 
it  for  the  same  reason  that  I  have  refused,  failed  to  say  more,  write 
more  to  you,  namely,  I  do  not  wish  to  be  considered  a  blow,  boast,  or 
fool  who  wishes  to  be  noticed,  etc.,  etc.  In  answer  to  your  various 
queries,  let  me  say :  First,  you  say  some  of  my  notes  are  interpolated, 
etc.  Sometimes  I  did  this  for  various  reasons.  I  had  some  of  the  papers 


LETTERS  FROM  HEBNDON  63 

with  me  in  Indiana  and  thought  I  might  lose  them,  and  hence  I  stated 
things  to  avoid  the  consequence  of  the  loss,  that  is,  I  didn't  want  people 
to  know  everything,  nor  the  exact  truth  at  all  times.  Secondly,  some- 
times, as  it  is  with  all  men,  I  believed  one  way  and,  when  I  heard  further 
evidence,  'believed  another  way.  In  the  matter  of  Lincoln's  legitimacy, 
at  one  time  I  thought  the  world  lied  in  him  when  it  stated  that  he  was  a 
bastard.  On  further  investigation,  I  now  and  have  for  years  believed 
him  the  son  of  Enloe.  My  opinions  are  formed  from  the  evidence  before 
you,  and  in  a  thousand  other  things,  some  of  which  I  heard  from  Lin- 
coln, others  are  inferences  springing  from  his  acts,  from  what  he  said, 
and  from  what  he  didn't  say.  In  the  first  place,  Lincoln  himself  told  me 
that  his  mother  was  a  bastard,  that  she  was  an  intellectual  woman,  a 
heroic  woman,  that  his  mind  he  got  from  his  mother,  etc.  This  was 
told  me  about  1852,  three  miles  west  of  this  city  on  our  way  to  court 
in  Petersburg,  Menard  County,  and  State  of  Illinois  ;  he  told  me  about 
Dennis  Hanks's  bastardy.  He  told  me  that  his  relations  were  lascivious, 
lecherous,  not  to  be  trusted.  Again,  it  is  a  fact  that  Thomas  Lincoln 
had  children  when  in  Kentucky,  and  when  he  went  to  Indiana  he  had 
none,  ceased  to  have  any.  If  you  remember,  Mr.  Thomas  Lincoln 
courted  his  second  wife  when  a  girl,  that  she  rejected  him,  that  she  sub- 
sequently married  another  man,  that  Thomas  Lincoln  married — both 
Lincoln's  mother  and  Lincoln's  step  mother  by  their  husbands  had 
children — that  Lincoln's  second  wife  was  prolific  when  her  husband 
lived,  that  in  the  prime  of  life  she  married  Thomas  Lincoln  and  ceased 
suddenly  to  be  prolific  when  she  was  so  with  her  first  husband.  It  is  true 
that  Thomas  Lincoln  had  a  fight  with  Enloe,  as  said,  because  he  caught 
Enloe  with  his  wife.  It  is  true  that  Lincoln  left  Kentucky  and  why,  I 
was  informed,  to  take  her  away  from  Enloe  and  general  surrounding 
bad  influences.  I  may  not  have  recorded  this,  but  I  have  been  told  so  and 
it  looks  to  me  to  be  proven  forever  true.  It  is  true  that  Lincoln  was  in- 
capable of  getting  a  child ;  because  he  had  the  mumps,  etc.  Lincoln  was 
in  Indiana  in  1844, 1  think — your  records  will  tell  you  when — and  that 
he  put  up  no  tombstone  to  his  mother's  grave ;  and  I  forget  whether 
he  ever  went  to  see  her  grave.  Your  records  will  state  the  truth  exactly. 
For  these  reasons  and  for  others  floating  in  my  mind  I  am  convinced 
that  the  weight  of  evidence  is  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  an  illegitimate.  The 
evidence  is  not  conclusive,  but  men  have  been  hung  on  less  evidence. 
From  what  Lincoln  has  casually  and  indirectly  said,  I  was  convinced 


64  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

that  his  illegitimacy  was  thrown  up  to  him  when  a  boy.  I  think  he  was 
told  of  the  fight  between  his  father  and  Enloe,  and  the  cause  of  it.  I  got 
this  as  I  remember  it  in  casual  conversations  in  Indiana.  I  did  not  re- 
duce everything  to  writing,  not  at  that  time  deeming  it  of  importance. 
Now  I  know  better.  I  left  out  nothing  important  to  the  understanding 
of  Lincoln,  standing  by  himself.  That  is  all  right.  As  to  Mr.  Lincoln's 
melancholy,  it  is  partly  organic  and  partly  historic,  Mr.  Lincoln  was 
of  a  low  physical  organization,  good  digestion,  slow  circulation,  slow 
functions,  blood  not  hot,  not  impulsive,  cold  flesh,  liver  had  no  action, 
bowels  slow,  sometimes  feverish,  sometimes  cold,  had  not  a  strong  life 
but  a  tenacious  one,  would  have  lived  a  hundred  years,  had  no  haste, 
no  impulses,  had  no  wear  and  tear  of  cellular  tissue,  muscle,  or  nerve. 
He  took  life  easy,  had  no  haste,  no  spontaneous  emotion,  no  impulse, 
was  sympathetic  and  emotional  in  presence  of  the  object.  I  know  Lin- 
coln better  than  I  know  myself.  He  was  so  good  and  so  odd  a  man,  how 
in  the  hell  could  I  help  study  him !  Mr.  Lincoln's  poverty,  a  curse  of  his 
origin,  the  origin  and  chastity  of  his  near  and  dear  relations,  his  fa- 
ther's cold  and  inhuman  treatment  of  him  sometimes,  the  death  of  Ann 
Rutledge,  his  intense  ambition,  and  society  not  energetically  recog- 
nizing his  greatness,  etc.,  etc.,  intensified  his  organic  melancholy. 

One  word  here  about  his  intense  popularity  in  Menard  County  in 
1834.  He  was  popular  in  that  county,  because  for  a  local  reason.  He 
advocated  a  canal  from  the  Sangamon  River  some  few  miles  below 
Petersburg  down  the  bluffs — being  lower  there  than  near  the  Illinois 
River,  to  Beardstown — thus  putting  New  Salem  and  Beardstown  in 
nearer  contact.  See  his  letter  copied  in  your  records.  This  gave  Lincoln 
a  popularity  not  otherwise  got.  I  have  no  time  to  be  more  particular, 
can't  write  a  history.  When  I  am  wrong,  your  records  will  correct  me. 
I  appeal  to  them,  putting  my  own  remembrance  of  things  alongside, 

As  to  Mr.  Lincoln's  religious  views,  he  was  in  short  an  infidel,  was  a 
universalist,  was  a  Unitarian,  a  theist.  He  did  not  believe  that  Jesus  was 
God  nor  the  son  of  God,  etc.,  was  a  fatalist,  denied  the  freedom  of  the 
will,  wrote  a  book  in  1834  or  5 — just  after  the  death  of  Ann  Rutledge, 
as  I  remember  the  facts  as  to  time.  He  then  became  more  melancholy,  a 
little  crazed,  etc.;  [he]  was  always  skeptical,  read  Volney  in  New 
Salem  and  other  books.  Samuel  Hill  of  Menard  was  the  man  who 
burned  up  Lincoln's  little  infidel  book.  Lincoln  told  me  a  thousand  times 
that  he  did  not  believe  that  the  Bible,  etc.,  were  revelations  of  God,  as 


LETTERS  PROM  HERNDON  65 

the  Christian  world  contends,  etc.  Will  send  you  a  printed  letter  soon 
on  this  subject.  You  have  Mr.  Hill's  statement  as  well  as  Bale's,  which 
see.  See  A.  Y.  Ellis  and  J.  H.  Matheny's  testimony  in  your  possession. 
The  points  that  Mr.  Lincoln  tried  to  demonstrate  are,  first,  that  the 
Bible  was  not  God's  revelations ;  and,  secondly,  that  Jesus  was  not  the 
son  of  God.  I  assert  this  on  my  own  knowledge  and  on  my  own  veracity, 
honor,  or  what  not.  Your  own  father-in-law,  Mr.  J.  T.  Stuart,  James 
H.  Matheny,  etc.,  etc.,  will  tell  you  the  truth.  I  say  they  will  confirm 
what  I  say,  with  this  exception :  they  will  all  make  it  blacker  than  I  re- 
member it.  Joshua  F.  Speed  of  Louisville,  I  think,  will  tell  you  the  same 
thing.  I  think  the  book  of  Lincoln  was  written  in  1834  or  5>  just  after 
the  death  of  Ann  Rutledge — I  know  it  was  after  that  sad  event. 

I  never  completed  my  fifth  lecture,  was  and  am  too  lazy ;  the  notes 
of  it,  etc.,  now  lie  in  my  drawer.  If  you  discover  any  grammatical  er- 
rors, etc.,  in  my  lectures  which  you  wish  to  quote,  correct  them,  as  I 
paid  no  close  attention  to  the  papers  when  I  delivered  them,  was  hur- 
ried when  I  penned  them.  A  lawyer  can't  scarcely  snatch  time  to  eat,  as 
you  well  know.  The  wonder  is  that  I  could  get  time  to  think  about  any- 
thing except — whisky.  You  can  have  my  draft,  etc.,  etc.,  of  the  fifth 
Lincoln  lecture.  You  will  find  much  loose  evidence  in  the  records  as  to 
Mr.  Lincoln's  boyhood  and  life.  You  must  weigh  the  evidence  as  a  law- 
yer does.  It  has  been  weighed  by  me  and  you  can  have  the  benefit  of  it 
if  you  will  ask  me  for  it,  putting  your  questions  sharp  and  close,  and 
clean. 

I  cannot  frame  a  genealogical  tree  of  the  Lincoln  family  for  three 
generations,  other  than  you  find  in  your  records. 

What  I  stated  to  Arnold  was  and  is  true.  Mr.  Lincoln  loved  Ann 
Rutledge  to  his  death,  no  mistake.  He  next  courted  Miss  Owens,  and 
next' Mary  Todd,  and  while  so  doing  he  lit  on  Miss  Edwards's  face. 
Lincoln  never  loved,  i.e.,  dearly  loved,  his  "Mary" — he  was  engaged  to 
her  when  Miss  Edwards  ran  across  his  path.  His  vow  to  Ann  Rut- 
ledge's  love  and  death,  his  promise  to  his  Mary  and  their  engagement, 
and  Miss  Edwards  flitting  across  the  path,  etc.,  made  Lincoln  crazy 
the  second  time — see  Judge  Logan's  (in  a  little  book  I  last  sent  you), 
see  Stuart's,  Miss  Edwards's,  and  other  testimony  in  your  records. 
You  must  read  over  and  over  again  the  records.  If  anything  is  proved, 
what  I  say  to  Arnold  is  proved.  I  know  many  if  not  all  the  facts  my- 
self. Lincoln,  Speed,  and  I  slept  together  for  two  or  three  years,  i.e;, 


66  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

slept  in  the  same  home,  I  being  Speed's  clerk ;  and  Lincoln  sleeping 
with  Speed.  I  have  heard  Lincoln  talk  about  the  matter,  and  from  what 
I  know  and  from  what  I  have  been  told  by  others  in  whom  I  have  im- 
plicit confidence  and  trust,  I  say,  if  what  I  told  Arnold  is  not  proved, 
nothing  can  be  proved.  You  may  reduce  the  elements  of  causation 
this  way :  say  that  Lincoln's  honor  was  pledged  to  Miss  Todd,  that 
he  saw  and  loved  another  woman,  Miss  Edwards,  and  that  he  desired  to 
break  away  from  Miss  Todd  and  to  join  Miss  Edwards,  and  that  the 
struggle  caused  the  second  crazed  spells,  and  yet — I  know  that  the 
Ann  Rutledge  element  entered  as  strong  as  any  element.  His  vow  to 
her  or  her  memory,  etc.,  was  as  strong  as  his  honor  at  any  other  time. 
Do  you  see?  Read  over  your  records  again  and  again.  It  will  save  you 
much  trouble  and  me  too.  The  two  suppositions  of  which  you  speak 
are  not  [undeciphered].  Co-existing,  do  co-exist  nevertheless.  The  sec- 
ond insanity  springs  from  his  old  love  of  Ann  Rutledge.  His  engage- 
ments with  his  "sweet  Mary,"  and  his  determination  to  break  that  en- 
gagement off,  and  to  marry  Miss  Edwards  if  he  could,  I  repeat,  was  the 
cause  of  his  second  insanity.  These  facts  do  co-exist  and  were  the  sole 
cause  of  his  second  insanity.  I  hate  to  differ  from  you,  but  I  can't 
avoid  it,  nor  see  the  difficulty  you  do.  Excuse  me.  Read  your  records 
closely  again  and  again. 

The  stars  in  Judge  Davis's  evidence  were  put  there  by  my  clerk, 
who  could  not  read  my  handwriting,  and  so  was  left  to  fill  up,  which  I 
forgot  to  do.  That  is  all  of  that  and  no  more  nor  no  less. 

In  the  matter  of  the  genealogy,  etc.,  character,  etc.,  chastity,  etc., 
of  the  Hanks-Lincoln-Sparrow  family,  I  am  satisfied  that  John  Hanks, 
nor  Dennis  Hanks,  know  much  about  it — upon  the  same  principle  that 
I  don't  know  anything  of  my  relations'  chastity,  etc.,  because  it  is  kept 
a  secret  from  me.  I  am  the  last  man  in  the  world  that  knows  the  bad 
phases  of  my  relations.  They  may  play  with  their  hats,  and  I  am  the 
last  man  in  the  world  to  know  it.  Again,  John  and  Dennis  Hanks  were 
very  young  when  they  left  Kentucky  and  Indiana  especially.  John 
Hanks  would  state  the  exact  truth — if  he  knew  it.  Dennis  Hanks  would 
go  a  mile  out  of  his  way  to  lie.  Bill  Green  is  a  good  man  but  a  blow — • 
an  exaggerator.  In  his  dealings,  etc.,  he  is  called  "Slippery  Bitt."  All 
this  is  true  and  yet  I  like  the  man.  I  do  not  now  remember  anyone  whom 
I  would  necessarily  suspect,  and  yet  I  did  watch  all,  criticized  all, 


LETTERS     tfUOMHEBNDON  67 


weighed  all,  which  I  want  you  to  do  toward  me.  Simply  give  me  a  fair 
chance  to  put  myself  right  on  the  record. 

The  Sparrows  and  Hankses  did  immigrate  into  Kentucky  together 
from  Virginia,  but  the  Sparrows  did  not  come  to  Indiana,  except  on  a 
visit,  if  that  much  —  Dennis  Hanks  to  the  contrary  notwithstanding. 
I  think  he  says  that  the  Sparrows  came  to  Indiana.  The  Sparrows  may 
have  come  from  England,  but  God  knows  wherefrom  —  not  John  nor 
Dennis  Hanks.  I  doubt  the  whole  biographical  genealogy  of  the  Liri- 
coln  family,  etc.  The  Sparrows  did  come  from  Virginia  to  Kentucky. 

I  have  no  fuller  copy  of  the  Book  of  Chronicles  than  you  have  got 
in  your  record.  It  is  not  complete,  but  I  did  the  best  I  could  to  get  it 
full. 

As  to  the  Lincoln  poem  on  suicide  I  found  out  from  Speed  that  it 
was  written  1838,  and  I  hunted  up  the  Journal  and  found  where  the 
poem  was,  what  day  published,  etc.,  etc.,  but  someone  had  cut  it  out  — 
supposed  to  be  Lincoln.  I  could  never  find  another  copy,  and  so  there 
is  an  end  of  that. 

The  Trailor  case  is  :  a  man  was  supposed  to  be  murdered  here  ; 
two  men,  the  Trailors,  swore  they  saw  the  man  killed  —  were  parties 
to  it,  implicated  Archibald  Trailor,  their  brother,  gave  their  evidences 
in  open  court,  told  when  it  was  done,  when  and  how,  where  body  carried 
and  thrown  in  a  mill  pond,  went  there,  found  buggy  tracks,  found  hair. 
The  two  Trailors  were  found  with  the  murdered  man's  money,  some  of 
it.  To  be  short,  the  murdered  man  came  to  light,  was  living,  had  a  crazy 
fit,  ran  off,  was  heard  from,  brought  to  this  city,  saved  Arch  Trailer's 
neck.  There  were  strong  corroborating  circumstances  that  the  man 
was  murdered,  etc.  Lincoln  worked  out  the  facts,  testimony,  etc.,  etc., 
and  sent  it  to  Quincy  in  1856,  1  think,  to  a  man  by  the  name  of  Jonas,  a 
lawyer  in  Quincy  who  said  he  wanted  it  to  publish,  etc.,  which,  as  I 
remember,  was  done.  Sent  several  times  to  Quincy  to  get  it  but  could 
never  get  it.  If  I  ever  go  to  Quincy,  I'll  get  if  I  can. 

I  guess  no  one  remembers  the  exact  language  of  the  Thomas  castiga- 
tion.  Logan  can  give  you  the  substance.  Write  to  him,  and  he'll  send 
to  you. 

I  do  not  remember  the  Dunlap  temperance  story  just  now  as  you  put 
it.  Copy  it  and  send  it  to  me  and  I'll  answer.  Don't  remember  any 
particular  thing  about  the  Wright  trial  spoken  of  by  Grigsby  as 


68  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

you  put  it.  I  remember  the  Webber  story,  remember  the  Wright  trial ; 
copy  and  send  to  me  and  let  me  see  what  you  mean.  I'll  answer.  I'll  get 
Bill  Jayne's  statement  in  full  and  send  to  you.  As  to  Lincoln's  honesty, 
I  doubt  whether  anyone  knows  anything  against  it.  I  guess  it  was  a 
misunderstanding.  I  know  Lincoln  was  intensely  honest,  have  seen  him 
tried  so  often  and  always  true,  that  /  would  rather  doubt  any  man's 
.  .  .  than  to  doubt  Lincoln's  honesty.  This  is  my  own  opinion. 

As  to  Bateman's  sayings  about  Lincoln's  religion,  it  is  all  bosh.  I'll 
send  you  a  printed  letter  soon  on  that  subject.  Holland's  account  of 
Lincoln's  religion  was  partly  taken  from  Bateman.  I  don't  think  that 
Bateman  told  all  that  Holland  says  that  Bateman  says,  etc.  Wait 
patiently,  and  I'll  send,  etc. 

Lincoln  told  me  whom  he  had  written  to  on  the  subject  of  his  Cabinet, 
but  forget  the  names.  As  I  remembered,  two  lived  in  the  North  and 
two  in  the  South.  Don't  remember  the  others,  etc.  I'll  think  this  over 
and  send  you  what  I  recollect — bad  memory  on  names.  .  .  . 

From  the  facts  before  me  Mr.  Lincoln  as  early  as  1830  began  to 
dream  of  a  destiny.  I  think  it  grew  and  developed  and  bloomed  into 
beauty,  etc.,  in  the  year  1840  exactly.  Mr.  Lincoln  in  that  year  was 
appointed  general  elector  for  this  State.  Mr.  Lincoln  told  me  that  his 
ideas  of  something  burst  in  him  in  1840.  He  was  flattered  in  1833,  4, 
and  5  by  Offutt  and  others  in  New  Salem — see  your  records — and  made 
to  believe  that  he  would  be  a  great  man  and  he  dreamed  of  it  then,  as  he 
told  me — always  delicately  and  indirectly.  My  remembrance  is  that 
it  was  the  year  1840  when  he  commenced  to  have  a  State  reputation. 
This  was  the  exact  time  that  his  convictions  developed  into  a  religious 
fervor.  He  always  had  a  conviction  more  or  less  of  ruin.  This  sprang 
from  his  physical  organization,  as  I  think,  and  yet  it  grew  in  him  all 
his  life — so  he  told  me,  often  spoke  of  it  to  me  in  my  office  and  on  the 
circuit  when  we  traveled  together. 

I  am  not  limited  in  my  information  further  than  Miss  Owens  and 
Bateman,  who  put  me  on  honor  and  under  privacy.  Bateman  lied  to 
Holland  as  Holland  lies  in  his  biography  of  Lincoln.  You  know  this  as 
well  as  I  do.  If  Lincoln  were  living  he  would  think  that  Bateman  did 
him  more  injustice  than  the  living  and  the  dead  combined.  He  scorned 
the  idea  that  God  scorned,  even  by  a  shadow,  a  lovely  daughter  of  His 
own. 

You  are  at  perfect  liberty  to  use  any  and  all  parts  of  my  lectures  or 


LETTERS     FROM     HEfcNDON  69 

letters  in  your  biography  of  Lincoln  that  suit  you — only  excepting 
some  of  my  private  notes  to  you.  Try  and  not  hurt  the  feelings  of  any- 
one, if  you  please,  and  in  using  my  lectures  and  letters  give  me  credit, 
if  you  wish ;  and  otherwise  if  you  wish.  Suit  yourself  on  that  question. 

I  have  now  answered  in  a  running  and  rambling  way  all  your  ques- 
tions, and  as  I  am  tired  out  I'll  say  no  more.  Will  write  you  again.  Do 
you  think  you  and  Black  and  friends  can  translate  this?  I  have  not 
corrected  it  and  wouldn't  for  ten  dollars  and  wouldn't  write  it  for 
$50.  You  know  I  am  spontaneous,  quick,  off-handed,  right  and  ready, 
and  hate  a  quill — hate  the  mechanics  of  "the  pen,  like  hell — so  I  do.** 
Correct  errors.  Give  Reverend  Black  my  best  respects,  etc. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNBON. 

Had  you  better  come  out  to  Illinois,  bringing  your  records  and  mak- 
ing notes,  questions,  etc.,  in  writing  before  starting?  I  hate  to  write 
so  terrible.  Possibly  I  might  come  to  Washington  in  May.  Keep  all  my 
letters,  etc. 

W.  H.  HBBNDON. 

.  .  .  See  Holland's  life  of  Lincoln,  pages  236-40 — all  false. 


Springfield,  IE.,  March  6,  1870, 
Friend  Lamon : 

I  have  sent  you  several  things,  letters,  etc.,  which  may  be  of  more  or 
less  value  to  you.  I  hope  they  may  assist  you  some  in  your  biography 
of  Lincoln.  As  to  Lincoln's  legitimacy,  I  do  not  wish  you  to  understand 
that  I  assert  that  he  was  illegitimate.  What  I  mean  to  say  is  this :  It  is 
my  opinion  that  the  weight  of  the  evidence  tends,  strongly  tends,  to 
prove  that  he  was  an  illegitimate.  That  preponderance  of  evidence,  as 
I  think,  has  led  my  mind  to  the  affirmative.  It  appears  from  your  rec- 
ords that  one  Haycraft,  clerk  of  the  circuit  court  of  Hardin  County 
(in  Elizabeth) ,  Kentucky,  wrote  to  Mr.  Lincoln  about  his  mother,  evi- 
dently to  find  out  some  facts.  Mr.  Lincoln,  I  say,  as  appears  from  your 
records,  answered  the  letter,  saying  in  substance  that  "you  are  mis- 
taken in  my  mother"  Mr.  Lincoln  does  not  state  wherein  the  man  was 
mistaken,  gives  no  light.  I  regret  that  Lincoln  did  not  state  wherein  the 
man  was  mistaken.  Prentice  got  up  some  evidence  on  this  question  in 
1860,  and  the  rumor  thereof  reached  here,  and  I  was  told  all  the  par- 


70  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

ticulars  as  early  as  1861  or  1862  as  I  now  recollect.  Human  memory  is 
uncertain  and  it  is  possible  that  somewhat  of  my  ideas  and  opinions  is 
made  up  of  rumor  and  rumor  alone.  I  state  this  to  you  to  put  you  on 
your  guard  as  to  what  I  say,  and  what  all  men  say.  Much  of  the  matter 
is  ten  years  old,  and  watch  all  men,  weigh  well  what  is  said,  search  for 
opportunities,  casts  of  mind,  education,  and  veracities.  Follow  no  man 
simply  because  he  says  so  and  so.  Follow  your  records,  sharply  criticiz- 
ing as  you  go.  When  I  was  around  taking  evidence  soon  after  and  long 
after  Mr.  Lincoln's  death,  much,  much  was  told  me  which  I  did  not 
reduce  to  writing,  but  which,  much  of  which,  floats  about  in  my  mem- 
ory. Time  may  have  modified,  altered,  or  changed  what  was  told  me.  I 
rejected  much  which  was  told  me,  because  what  was  told  me  was  con- 
trary to  what  I  knew,  contrary  to  my  records,  and  contrary  to  nature ; 
still,  I  now  wish  I  had  written  it  out  to  show  the  follies,  prejudices, 
errors,  and  falsehoods,  the  foundations  of  all  human  history. 

I  used  to  believe  in  the  substantial  history  of  the  world,  to  believe  in 
the  truthfulness  of  biography,  but  since  I  knew  Lincoln  and  read  and 
hear  the  multitudinous  follies,  prejudices,  errors,  falsehoods,  I  doubt 
all,  nay,  reject  all.  I  am  sorry  for  this,  but  I  can't  help  it.  When  I  was 
a  student  of  history,  as  well  as  of  biography,  I  only  doubted — slightly 
doubted.  I  then  made  a  resolve  that  I  would,  if  ever  opportunity  of- 
fered, write  out  a  truthful  history  or  biography  of  the  man,  mental, 
moral,  religious,  etc.,  analytically,  as  well  as  otherwise,  so  that  the 
reader  would  have  a  full  view  of  the  whole  subject,  thus  enabling  the 
student  and  reader  to  judge  more  correctly  than  if  he  only  saw  a  part 
of  the  subject.  This  idea  grew  on  me  as  I  got  older  and  doubted  more 
the  older  I  grew.  To  fulfill  this  original  idea  fully  and  completely,  as  I 
had  now  a  good  man,  a  good  subject  with  fair  opportunities,  I  deter- 
mined to  get  up  a  complete  record  of  Lincoln,  so  far  as  it  was  in  my 
power  to  do.  I  threw  off,  so  far  as  I  could,  all  preconceived  opinions 
and  prejudices,  all  friendships  or  enmities,  everything  that  clouded 
my  vision.  I  was  determined,  at  one  time,  to  write  out  Mr.  Lincoln's 
history — biography  rather — cost  me  what  it  would:  loss  of  money, 
loss  of  friendship,  or  loss  of  everything  but  honor.  Pecuniary  circum- 
stances over  which  I  had  no  control  compelled  me  to  sell  my  records  to 
you.  When  I  was  getting  up  the  records,  people  tried  to  induce  me  to 
state  only  what  Mr.  Lincoln  was  and  not  what  he  was  not.  I  kept  on 
in  pursuit  of  my  original  idea,  determined  to  give  the  world  light,  if  I 


LETTERS  FROM  HEUNDON  71 

could.  I  think  that  to  state  only  what  a  man  was  only  presents  half  the 
man,  and  to  get  the  whole  it  was  necessary  to  state  what  Tie  was  not. 
The  first  part  of  this  proposition  showing  what  he  did  and  why  he  did 
it,  and  the  second  showing  what  he  did  not  and  the  reasons  why.  I 
thought  that  all  the  man,  his  positive  side  and  his  negative  side,  should 
be  known.  Hence  the  records  which  you  have  are  as  they  are — both 
sides  fully  represented,  as  I  think.  I  am  satisfied  that  I  was  correct, 
and  yet  correct,  still  correct,  in  other  words. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  my  good  friend,  well  tried  and  true.  I  was  and  am 
his  friend.  While  this  is  true,  I  was  under  an  obligation  to  be  true  to 
the  world  of  readers — living  and  to  live  during  all  coming  time — as 
long  as  Lincoln's  memory  lived  in  this  world.  Lincoln  rose  over  so  many 
disadvantages  that  he  seems  to  me  a  hero,  having  lived  a  grand  good 
life.  Such  a  life  shoots  faith  and  hope  deep  into  the  souls  of  the  young 
aspiring  men  of  this  land.  Seeing  Lincoln,  as  I  see  him,  he  is  a  grand 
character.  I  see  him  in  my  mind  from  his  cradle  to  his  grave,  and  I  say 
Lincoln's  life  seems  a  grand  march  over  the  forces  and  resistances  of 
nature  and  man.  Do  not  think  me  a  hero  worshiper.  I  know  so  much  of 
Lincoln's  trials  and  troubles  and  difficulties  that  I  see  and  feel  them  all 
as  my  own — so  closely  do  they  touch  me  and  my  good  dead  friend. 

Now  in  writing  your  biography,  I  wish  to  say  one  word  more,  and 
it  is  this :  You  state  in  one  of  your  letters  to  me  that  you  suppose  that 
I  am  under  obligations  of  secrecy  to  many  persons.  To  a  certain  extent 
I  am,  as  I  suppose.  I  wrote  you  and  gave  you  the  names  of  such  persons 
as  I  had  pledged  a  secrecy.  I  do  not  remember  others  just  now.  Possibly 
Leonard  Swett  says  something  in  his  evidence  about  this  secrecy. 
Probably  it  was  in  his  letter  coming  with  his  evidence.  Probably  I  am 
under  obligations  to  others.  Do  I  understand  you  as  saying  that  in 
your  biography  of  Lincoln  you  intended  to  use  the  names  of  all  persons 
giving  this  or  that  particular  or  general  information?  For  instance, 
Mrs.  Lincoln,  Miss  Edwards,  and  others  gave  me  information.  Do  you 
intend  to  give  up  their  names  as  authorities  of  this  or  that  assertion? 
If  this  is  your  plan,  I  think  it  is  wrong.  Assert  it  somewhat  this  way : 
From  the  evidence  before  me,  this  seems  to  be  true.  Or :  it  is  true  by  my 
records,  Herndon's  records,  or  in  any  way  so  as  to  avoid  giving  the 
names  of  men  and  women  for  every  assertion.  You  are  at  perfect  liberty 
to  give  up  my  i*ame  and  quote  me  as  often  as  you  see  proper.  I  think 
I  state  nothing  but  what  is  true,  at  least,  nothing  that  I  do  not  believe 


72  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

to  be  true.  If  I  err  it  is  in  favor  of  Lincoln  as  I  verily  believe,  be- 
cause I  am  prejudiced  a  little  in  his  favor.  In  fact  I  was  accused  of 
being  partial  toward  Mr.  Lincoln  when  I  promised  in  my  lectures  or 
publicly  that  I  would  strip  myself  of  all  prejudice.  I  was  likewise  said 
by  Mr.  Lincoln's  friends — mere  blind  hero  worshipers — to  be  preju- 
diced against  him.  I  felt  then  that  I  was  correct,  quite  correct ;  and  feel 
so  yet.  Would  it  not  be  better,  friend  Lamon,  not  to  refer  to  any  name 
except  such  as  you  get  the  absolute  consent  of?  Write,  say,  to  Stuart, 
Swett,  Speed,  and  all  other  men  and  women,  and  ask  them  if  their 
names  may  not  be  used  as  authority. 

Again,  would  it  not  do  to  say  in  your  Preface  or  Introduction  or 
what  not,  to  state  that  you  have  records,  etc.,  and  if  any  men  doubt,  if 
any  women  doubt,  let  them  come  to  you  and  convince  themselves  of  the 
fact  and  truthfulness  of  what  you  say  ?  I  am  afraid  that  the  giving  up 
names  will  blow  this  social  American  world  wide  open.  What  say  you? 
What  think  you?  Be  cautious,  be  wisely  discreet,  be  prudent  and 
shrewd.  Let  us  create  no  ill  feeling  or  severe  criticism  from  a  morbid 
press  eager  to  say  something. 

If  you  will  send  me  the  proof  sheets  of  your  Biography  early  and 
long  before  you  are  ready  to  issue  it,  I  will  give  you  all  the  assistance 
I  can  in  the  world  of  fact  and  the  world  of  opinion  and  in  the  world  of 
prudence.  As  to  other  things  you  are  better  judges,  you  and  friends, 
than  I  am.  You  had  better  be  in  no  very  great  hurry  in  finally  issuing 
your  book.  Hard  times  will  cut  a  material  figure  in  its  sale,  as  I  see  it. 
You  are  the  better  j  udge,  however,  of  this  than  I  am.  .  .  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON, 


Spring-field,  III.,  March  6,  1870. 
Friend  Lamon : 

Once  Lincoln  got  kicked  at  a  mill  and  knocked  crazy.  Mr.  Lincoln 
told  me  this  :  that  he  had  to  shell  the  corn  with  his  hands  and  take  it  to 
mill  on  horseback,  corn  in  one  end  and  rocks  in  the  other ;  that  he  went 
to  mill  on  his  father's  old  mare ;  that  he  "had  to  wait  his  turn  to  grind"; 
that  it  was  getting  late  in  the  evening,  he  then  being  some  two  (2  )  miles 
from  home,  not  fifty,  as  stated  by  Holland ;  that  he  hitched  in  his  old 
mare  to  the  sweep-pole  or  lever  that  turned  the  wheel,  and  Lincoln,  be- 


ILETTEBSFBOMHEBNDON  73 

ing  in  a  great  hurry  to  get  through  with  his  grist,  urged  up  the  old 
mare  to  her  full  speed,  round  and  round,  round  and  round  and  faster 
and  faster ;  that  he  thought  she  ought  to  go  faster  and  that  he  struck 
her,  with  a  stick,  saying  at  the  same  time,  or  intended  rather  to  say: 
"Get  up — you  lazy  old  devil,"  and  just  as  he  struck  her  and  got  to  the 
words  which  were  uttered:  "Get  up — "  the  old  mare  protested  with 
her  heels  on  Lincoln's  head  against  such  treatment.  Lincoln  just  as 
he  had  uttered :  "Get  up,"  was  kicked,  knocked  crazy,  was  picked  up, 
carried  home,  came  to  that  night,  say  about  twelve  o'clock,  and  that, 
upon  coming  to  consciousness,  Lincoln  finished  the  sentence:  "you 
lazy  old  devil."  He  finished  the  sentence  just  as  he  intended  to  speak  it, 
commencing  where  he  left  off.  Lincoln  told  me  this  ;  and  he  and  I  used 
to  speculate  on  it.  The  first  question  was :  why  was  not  the  whole  ex- 
pression uttered ;  and  the  second  one :  why  finish  at  all?  We  came  to  the 
conclusion — I  being  somewhat  of  a  psychologist  as  well  as  physiolo- 
gist— he  aiding  me  and  I  him,  that  the  mental  energy,  force,  had  been 
flashed  by  the  will  on  the  nerves  and  thence  on  the  muscles  and  that 
that  energy,  force,  or  power  had  fixed  the  muscles  in  the  exact  shape, 
or  form,  or  attitude,  or  position,  to  utter  those  words ;  that  the  kick 
shocked  him,  checked,  momentarily  the  action  of  the  muscles ;  and  that 
so  soon  as  that  check  was  removed  or  counteracted  by  a  returning  flow 
of  life  and  energy,  force,  and  power  in  their  proper  channels,  that  the 
muscles  fired  off,  as  it  were  functioned  as  the  nervous  energy  flashed 
there  by  the  will  through  the  nerves — acted  automatically  under  a 
power  in  repose.  This  seemed  to  us  to  be  the  legitimate  conclusion  of 
things. 

Let  me  say  a  word  or  two  about  Lincoln's  mother  and  Lincoln's 
opinion  of  her.  As  I  told  you  before,  Mr.  Lincoln  openly  and  candidly 
and  sincerely  told  me  that  his  mother  was  a  bastard.  The  exact  idea 
that  suggested  the  thought  to  tell  what  was  told  me  by  Lincoln  was 
this :  Lincoln  and  I  had  a  case  in  the  Menard  circuit  court  which  re- 
quired a  discussion  on  hereditary  qualities  of  mind,  natures,  etc.  Lin- 
coln's mind  was  dwelling  on  his  case,  mine  on  something  else.  Lincoln 
all  at  once  said :  "Billy,  I'll  tell  you  something,  but  keep  it  a  secret 
while  I  live.  My  mother  was  a  bastard,  was  the  daughter  of  a  noble- 
man so  called  of  Virginia.  My  mother's  mother  was  poor  and  credulous, 
etc.,  and  she  was  shamefully  taken  advantage  of  by  the  man.  My 
mother  inherited  his  qualities  and  I  hers.  All  that  I  am  or  hope  ever  to 


74*  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

be  I  get  from  my  mother,  God  bless  her.  Did  you  never  notice  that 
bastards  are  generally  smarter,  shrewder,  and  more  intellectual  than 
others  ?  Is  it  because  it  is  stolen  ?"  This  is  a  substantial  statement  made 
to  me  by  Lincoln  just  on  a  hot  overlapping  spring  creek  on  the  road  to 
Petersburg  two  and  a  half  miles  west  of  this  city  about  1851  and  about 
which  there  is  nor  can  be  any  material  mistake  and  in  these  last  ex- 
pressions I  have  sometimes  thought  that  Lincoln  intended  to  include 
himself.  I  do  not  assert  this  to  be  so :  it  only  seems  so,  by  a  loose  intend- 
ment  made  by  me,  a  loose  impression  made  by  me.  The  manner  of  Lin- 
coln I  never  shall  forget — nor  what  was  said,  nor  the  place,  whatever 
may  become  of  time. 

There  is  much  in  Holland's  life  of  Lincoln  which  is  true,  as  I  gave 
him  much,  though  he  did  not  record  what  I  said  correctly.  ...  I 
doubt  the  Parson  Elkin  story,  that  part  which  says  that  Lincoln  wrote 
to  the  parson.  Lincoln  was  about  eight  years  old,  lived  in  a  wilderness, 
had  no  paper,  as  always,  at  hand,  no  ink,  etc.  Think  the  story  came 
from  Dennis  Hanks.  .  .  .  Mrs.  Lincoln  died — as  said  by  some  with 
the  milk  sickness,  some  with  a  galloping  quick  consumption.  Lincoln's 
readings  are  exaggerated  in  Holland.  .  .  .  Lincoln  didn't  read  the 
Bible  much  if  any,  didn't  read  Henry  Clay's  life  by  Prentice  in  1830, 
nor  28-9 ;  because  it  was  not  then  printed,  as  I  remember.  It  came  here 
about  1833,  when  Lincoln  read  it,  if  ever.  Look  up  the  matter.  Lincoln 
borrowed  of  Mr.  Crawford,  Weems's  Washington  and  not  Ramsey's 
Washington.  Is  there  such  a  life  of  Washington  as  Ramsey's  life?  I 
know  that  Ramsey  wrote  a  history  of  the  United  States,  but  did  he 
write  Washington's  life?  Look  into  this.  It  is  said  that  Lincoln  read 
Plutarch's  Lives.  This  is  not  so.  The  boat  story  as  told  by  Holland  is 
untrue.  Lincoln  never  tried  to  build  a  boat  for  himself  nor  his  father 
to  carry  off  the  extra  products  of  the  Lincoln  farm.  Pshaw,  the  idea 
is  ridiculous !  If  the  Lincoln  family  got  enough  to  eat  on  a  few  acres 
of  ground  tilled  by  Thomas  Lincoln  and  "Abe,"  they  should  have 
thanked  God  and  taken  courage.  I  doubt  the  dollar  story  there- 
fore. .  .  .  The  dollars  part  may  have  happened  or  taken  place  at 
some  other  time  and  place  and  yet  I  doubt.  Holland  tells  many  things 
in  the  first,  second,  third,  and  fourth  chapters  which  are  true.  I  was 
told  them  by  Lincoln  and  I  told  Holland ;  will  read  Holland  and  pick 
out  what  I  know  to  be  true  as  I  learned  them  from  Lincoln  and  others. 


LETTERS     FUOMHEBNDON  75 

Be  it  remembered  that  I  have  walked  over  the  Lincoln  farm,  saw  every- 
body, etc.,  in  Indiana,  and  know  whereof  I  speak.  .  .  . 

Mr.  Holland  makes  Mr.  Lincoln  dream  of  his  destiny  about  1837 ; 
mistake,  it  was  in  1840.  .  .  .  Holland  exaggerates  Lincoln's  popu- 
larity. ...  I  gave  you  the  true  version  in  one  of  my  letters  to  you. 
Holland  tells  a  story  about  Lincoln's  honesty  as  postmaster.  .  .  . 
This  is  substantially  so ;  think  I  was  present  at  the  time  or  heard  it 
directly  after  it  happened.  Lincoln  and  I  were  going  to  Petersburg  in 
1850, 1  think.  The  political  world  was  dead,  the  compromise  of  1850 
seemed  to  settle  the  Negroes'  fate,  etc.  Things  seemed  to  be  stagnant 
and  all  hope  for  progress  in  the  line  of  progress,  etc.,  freedom,  etc., 
seemed  to  be  crushed  out.  Lincoln  was  speculating  with  me  about  the 
deadness  and  despair  of  things  and  deeply  regretting  that  his  human 
strength  and  power  were  limited  by  his  nature  to  rouse  and  stir  up 
the  world.  He  said  gloomily,  despairing,  sadly :  "How  hard,  oh,  how 
hard  it  is  to  die  and  leave  one's  country  no  better  than  if  one  had  never 
lived  for  it !  The  world  is  dead  to  hope,  deaf  to  its  own  death  struggle 
made  known  by  a  universal  cry.  What  is  to  be  done?  Is  anything  to 
be  done?  Who  can  do  anything  and  how  can  it  be  done?  Did  you  ever 
think  of  these  things  ?"  .  .  . 

Holland  has  got  a  part  of  this.  .  .  .  The  fight  of  Lincoln,  his  offer 
to  defend  Col.  E.  D.  Baker,  and  what  he  said  on  that  occasion  is  true 
to  the  letter.  .  .  . 

I  think  none  of  all  these  things  are  in  your  record  and  yet  I  know 
them  to  be  true,  as  stated  herein  substantially.  Your  record  will  com- 
plete what  is  incomplete.  I  did  not  record  many  things  that  I  knew  to 
be  true,  because  they  were  familiar  to  me,  and  I  knew  I  could  draw  on 
my  memory  if  I  should  attempt  to  write  the  biography  of  Lincoln. 
.  .  .  What  I  meant  to  say  about  the  Lincoln  genealogical  tree  was 
that,  so  far  as  my  investigation  of  witness  in  this  matter,  I  failed  to  be 
satisfied  through  such  investigation.  Lincoln's  biographies  make  it 
plain,  and  yet  I  could  find  myself  no  human  testimony  proving  and 
clinching  beyond  doubt  the  truthfulness  of  the  genealogy  of  Lin- 
coln. .  .  . 

Some  few  days,  probably  on  the  day  he  received  an  invitation  to  de- 
liver his  Cooper  Institute  speech,  he  came  into  the  office  and  looked 
much  pleased,  not  to  say  tickled.  He  said  to  me :  "Billy,  I  am  invited  or 


76  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

solicited  to  deliver  a  lecture  in  New  York.  Should  I  go?"  "By  all 
means,"  I  replied,  "and  it  is  a  good  opening  too."  "If  you  were  in  my 
fix,  what  subject  would  you  choose?"  said  Lincoln.  "Why,  a  political 
one,  that's  your  forte,"  I  said  to  Lincoln.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  some  year 
or  two  before  this  delivered  a  lecture  here,  at  Jacksonville  and  other 
places,  and  it  was  so  poor  that  it  was  a  failure,  utter  failure.  I  heard  it. 
Mr.  Lincoln  had  not  the  fire,  taste,  reading,  eloquence,  etc.,  which 
would  make  him  a  lecturer,  had  no  imagination,  no  fancy,  no  taste, 
no  emotion,  and  no  readings  in  that  peculiar  line,  and  hence  I  ad- 
vised him  as  I  did.  He  would,  in  the  absence  of  a  friend's  opinion,  as 
soon  take  up  the  Beautiful  as  any  other  subject  for  a  lecture  when  he 
had  no  sense  of  it.  Lincoln  had  poor  judgments  of  the  fitness  and  ap- 
propriateness of  things.  He  would  wade  into  a  ballroom  and  speak 
aloud  to  some  friend:  "How  clean  these  women  look!"  Mr.  Lincoln 
was  a  curious  being ;  he  had  an  idea  that  he  was  equal  to,  if  not  superior 
to,  all  things  ;  thought  he  was  fit  and  skilled  in  all  things,  master  of  all 
things,  and  graceful  in  all  things.  Lincoln  had  not  good  judgments; 
he  had  no  sense  of  the  fitness,  appropriateness,  harmony,  of  things. 
This  nature  forced  itself  on  my  observation  and  I  could  not  avoid  re- 
flections and  conclusions  and  the  most  of  these  I  think  you  have  in  my 
lectures,  etc.,  etc.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  strong  man,  a  good  man,  an 
honest  man,  a  tender  man,  full  of  the  integrity  of  human  purposes,  had 
a  tenacity  of  purpose,  a  persistency  and  continuity  of  thought,  the 
equal  to  which  I  never  witnessed,  and  never  expect  to  see. 

But  about  the  Cooper  Institute  lecture.  I  advised  Mr.  Lincoln  to  go 
by  all  means  and  to  lecture  on  politics.  I  told  Mr.  Lincoln  I  thought  it 
would  help  open  the  way  to  the  Presidency,  thought  I  could  see  the 
meaning  of  the  move  by  the  New  York  men,  thought  it  was  a  move 
against  Seward,  thought  Greeley  had  something  to  do  with  it,  think 
so  yet,  have  no  evidence.  The  result  you  know.  Mr.  Lincoln's  Cooper 
Institute  speech  was  a  profound  one,  as  I  think. 

In  one  of  my  letters  to  you  I  said  substantially  that  it  did  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's soul  good  to  hear  censure,  condemnation,  etc.,  and  this  is  true 
when  that  censure,  condemnation,  etc.,  were  directed  to  his  equal  and 
rival — the  great  who  were  struggling  for  the  things,  offices,  etc.,  that 
Lincoln  had  his  eyes  on,  his  hopes  on,  and  his  soul.  As  to  little  men,  or 
great  men  who  did  not  "run  counter"  to  Lincoln's  ambition,  he  was 
pensive,  indifferent,  etc.,  saying  by  act :  "Go  it,  husband — go  it,  bear." 


LETTERS     F&OMHEKNDON  77 

Let  what  I  say  here  modify  what  I  said  in  my  former  letter.  I  write  by 
snatches  and  "ketches"  in  court,  during  court  hours,  being  disturbed 
by  this  man  and  that,  etc.,  for  this  purpose  and  that,  etc.,  etc. 

Religion  Again 

James  H.  Matheny  tells  me  that  from  about  1854  to  1860  Lincoln 
played  a  sharp  game  here  on  the  religious  world,  that  Lincoln  knew 
that  he  was  to  be  a  great  man,  was  a  rising  man,  was  looking  to  the 
Presidency,  etc.,  and  well  knowing  that  the  old  infidel,  if  not  atheistic, 
charge  would  be  made  and  proved  against  him,  and  to  avoid  the  dis- 
grace, odium,  and  unpopularity  of  it,  trampled  on  the  Christian  toes, 
saying :  "Come  and  convert  me."  The  elders,  lower  and  higher  members 
of  the  churches,  including  ministers,  etc.,  flocked  around  him  and  that 
he  appeared  openly  to  the  world  as  a  seeker ;  that  it  was  noised  about 
that  Lincoln  was  a  seeker  after  salvation,  etc.,  in  the  Lord ;  that  letters 
were  written  more  or  less  all  over  the  land  that  Lincoln  was  soon  to  be 
a  changed  man,  etc.,  and  thus  it  was  he  used  the  Reverend  James  Smith 
of  Scotland,  old  man  Bergen,  and  others.  I  have  often  thought  that 
there  was  something  in  this,  but  can't  affirm  it  to  be  so.  This  is 
Matheny's  honest  opinion,  and  no  man  is  superior  to  Matheny ?s  judg- 
ments, etc.,  of  human  nature,  actions,  and  motives,  etc.  He  knew  Lin- 
coln as  well  as  I  did,  I  think.  One  thing  is  true :  that  the  said  Reverend 
Dr.  Smith  of  Scotland  presented  Lincoln  with  a  book  written  by  said 
doctor ;  Lincoln  brought  it  to  the  office,  laid  it  down,  never  took  it  up 
again  to  my  knowledge,  never  condescended  to  write  his  name  in  it, 
never  spoke  of  it  to  me.  Never  let  me  know  much  about  his  religious 
aspirations  from  1854  to  1860  in  the  above  line,  always  appeared  dif- 
ferent, that  scorning  all  Christian  views.  It  is  said  by  someone  here 
that  Lincoln  told  him  that  he  was  about  converted,  but  that  man — I 
do  not  know  and  can't  find  out — is  said  to  be  a  blab,  etc.  I  do  not 
think  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  hypocrite  and  yet  I  know  he  scarcely 
trusted  any  man  with  his  more  profound  secrets.  I  had  to  read  them  in 
his  facts,  acts,  hints,  face,  as  well  as  what  he  did  not  do  nor  say,  how- 
ever absurd  this  last  expression  may  appear  to  be.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a 
secretive  man,  had  great  ambition,  profound  policies,  deep  prudences, 
etc.,  was  retired,  contemplative,  abstract,  as  well  as  abstracted-  Lin- 
coln was  about  as  shrewd  a  man  as  this  world  ever  had  and  yet  he  was 


78  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

honest,  fair,  and  manly,  incapable  of  falsehood,  of  base  deception,  or 
of  fraud,  as  I  think.  But  you  shall  have  all  opinions  and  all  sides  and 
all  facts  and  acts  that  I  can  find,  and  when  you  have  all  these  you  can 
judge  for  yourself. 

I  send  you  the  Reverend  Dr.  Smith's  letter  from  Scotland,  giving 
me  "goss."  I  send  the  Chicago  Tribune's  article  on  the  Ann  Rutledge 
lecture.  It  says  that  the  Ann  Rutledge  lecture  is  exploded,  gone  to  the 
dogs,  was  imprudent,  etc.  When  that  Ann  Rutledge  lecture  shall  be  ex- 
ploded, the  substantial  facts  of  it,  then  Lincoln's  name  and  memory 
will  explode  with  it.  You  have  the  facts  of  it,  the  most  of  them  in  your 
record.  You  can  see  for  yourself  and  you  must  judge  for  yourself. 
Smith's  letter  is  simply  folly,  bombast,  etc.,  and  what  he  says  of  Lin- 
coln's religion,  the  Rible,  etc.,  means  nothing.  It  is  too  general  in  its 
expression ;  he  might  say  the  same  things  of  me  speaking  generally, 
and  yet  it  wouldn't  express  my  ideas  at  all,  nor  my  philosophy,  nor  my 
religion.  I  believe  that  the  Bible  is  the  revelation  of  God,  and  that  Jesus 
was  the  son  of  God,  and  so  do  I  believe  that  the  Declaration  of  Inde- 
pendence is  the  revelation  of  God  and  George  Washington,  a  son  of 
God.  I  can  talk  a  week  to  technical  Christians  and  they  will  assume 
that  I  mean  so  and  so  when  I  don't  mean  so  and  so.  Glittering  general- 
ities won't  do.  I  believe  in  miracles,  think  a  man  is  a  miracle  and  God's 
grandest  miracle,  believe  in  miraculous  conception,  think  your  con- 
ception was  a  miraculous  one.  Glittering  generalities  won't  do.  Read 
my  letter  to  Smith  and  notice  the  questions  closely.  Then  read  Smith's 
letter  to  me  and  watch  the  answers  closely  and  you  will  see  that  he  an- 
swered no  question.  About  miraculous  conception,  etc.,  he  said  no 
word.  In  fact  he  made  no  specific  answer  to  anything.  He  knew  I  would 
prove  him  false  if  he  should  be  precise,  so  he  dealt  in  generalities.  I 
could  not  answer  Smith  at  the  time  of  his  letter,  first,  because  I  was  en- 
gaged in  more  important  things ;  and,  second,  I  would  have  to  drag 
Mrs.  Lincoln  into  the  field,  because  Smith  took  refuge  under  her, 
fought  from  behind  her ;  and,  third,  because  I  should  be  compelled  to 
say  something  of  Smith's  morals,  temperance,  integrity,  and  character 
generally ;  and,  fourth,  because  I  knew  I  had  the  facts  and  truths  in 
my  own  hand,  knew  it  would  all  come  to  light  sometime,  etc.  Hence  I 
bided  my  time.  If  Smith  is  correct,  do  him  justice.  Do  Smith  and  all 
men  exact  and  equal  justice.  Criticize  all,  thoroughly  and  well.  If  I 


LETTERS  FROM  HEBNDON  79 

make  any  broad  mistakes  with  pen  or  otherwise  in  my  rush  and  great 
hurry  give  me  an  opportunity  to  correct. 

I  send  you  Lincoln's  letter  to  Wallace  on  protection.  Don't  know 
that  it  was  ever  copied  in  the  records,  think  it  was,  but  for  fear  it  was 
not,  I  send  it  to  you.  Lincoln  was  a  strong  protection  man.  He  and  John 
Calhoun  of  Kansas,  in  this  city  in  1844,  held  a  long  discussion,  say 
three  or  four  nights,  on  protective  tariffs.  Both  these  men  were  strong 
men,  strong  on  this  question.  Calhoun  in  1844  was  a  strong,  very 
strong,  and  clear-headed  man,  Lincoln's  equal  and  the  superior  of 
Douglas,  but  whisky — whisky  ruined  him  long,  long  before  he  went  to 
Kansas.  Calhoun  was  a  noble  man  in  his  original  nature — went  to 
school  to  him — but  whisky,  poverty,  etc.,  etc.,  did  their  work.  He 
fell  and  yet  in  his  fall  he  was  a  gentleman  in  every  sense  of  the  word. 
He  loved  Lincoln  and  as  well  as  Lincoln  could  he  returned  it.  I  heard 
this  discussion,  "toted  books,"  and  "hunted  up  authorities"  for  Lin- 
coln, as  I  did  in  law. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  March  15, 1870. 
Friend  Lamon : 

Your  letter  making  certain  inquiries  is  this  moment  handed  to  me. 
If  I  were  you  I  should  tell  the  truth  as  I  saw  it.  I  should  suppress  no 
truth  and  suggest  no  falsehood.  If  I  thought  Mr.  Lincoln  an  illegiti- 
mate I  should  state  it.  I  would  draw  a  strong  contrast  between  what 
he  was  born  and  how  he  died.  He  was  born  into  the  social  world  with  a 
curse  on  him,  a  millstone  tied  to  his  neck,  and  yet  by  his  own  inherent 
force  of  a  sacred  purpose  he  on  the  tide  floated  to  glory.  Show  his 
origin  and  end  sharply  contrasted.  Contrast  is  a  power;  it  makes 
things  distinct.  Sympathy  is  a  power.  State  the  facts  of  his  origin  so 
as  to  assure  active  sympathy  and  to  bind  it  to  him.  Sympathy  is  a 
power.  Give  me  the  sympathy  of  the  world  and  you  may  have  its  cold 
iron  logic.  Lincoln  the  unaided,  uneducated,  Lincoln  the  penniless 
barefoot  boy,  through  [undeciphered]  and  persistency  of  an  honest 
purpose,  carved  upon  the  world's  history  the  character  of  Honest 
Abe.  I  should  show  his  low  origin  and  high  end  in  bold  contrast,  run- 


80  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

ning  such  parallels  as  history  suggested,  etc.  I  should  then  applaud 
this  democracy,  this  government,  and  show  that  such  a  character  un- 
der such  lowly  conditions  would  be  an  impossibility  in  Europe,  etc., 
would  show  these  things,  holding  them  up  to  the  young  in  this  world 
for  all  coming  time  as  stimulants,  as  living  hopes  urging  them  to  a  life 
of  integrity,  faith,  and  hope.  This  all  seems  grand  to  me ;  and  whether 
you  know  it  or  not,  Lincoln's  life  to  me  was  a  grand  life,  knowing  what 
I  do  of  him.  This  is  my  idea,  and  I  think  the  best  course  for  you.  You 
must  do  so,  if  you  want  your  hero  to  shine.  Without  this  whole  truth 
business,  I  do  not  think  it  possible  to  make  his  life  a  grand  struggle, 
making  [incomplete]  .  .  . 


Springfield,  IU.,  March  23, 1870. 
Friend  Lamon : 

I  have  been  very  busy  in  court  for  a  month  or  more  and  had  no  time 
to  finish  anything  or  polish  anything — wrote  in  a  gallop,  with  a  whoop. 
I  wrote  you  a  hasty  letter  yesterday,  stating  to  you  what  you  ought  to 
do  and  what  you  ought  not  to  do  in  relation  to  quoting  authorities,  I 
have  another  view  of  the  case  which  I  wish  to  present  to  your  view  and 
it  is  this :  If  you  indiscriminately  quote  men  and  women  on  all  questions, 
they  will  turn  on  me  in  this  way :  "When  I  gave  you  the  information  I 
trusted  you,  gave  you  the  information,  not  expecting  you  would  sell 
it  to  another.  It  was  a  personal  trust  in  you." 

On  general  questions  not  affecting  Lincoln's  mother,  Lincoln's 
birth  and  parentage,  Lincoln's  domestic  relations  and  his  religion,  I 
can  see  no  objections  to  quoting  names.  To  that  extent  I  will  trust  your 
discretion.  In  all  cases  affecting  the  above  things,  including  Lincoln's 
courtship,  you  must  get  the  consent  of  those  who  gave  me  the  informa- 
tion. Your  records  will  show  you  where  to  write  and  to  whom.  I  will 
see  as  many  as  I  can  and  get  their  consent,  will  write  to  as  many  as  I 
can  and  ask  them  for  authority,  but  this  must  not  release  you  from 
like  efforts  to  all  persons,  for  I  may  not  get  time,  have  got  .to  go  out 
on  the  circuit  and  plead  for  bread.  I  am  satisfied  that  I  gave  promises 
to  more  persons  than  I  have  spoken  about,  have  no  doubt  that  I  gave 
my  word  to  Haycraf  b  and  to  the  clerk  at  Hodgenville,  as  well  as  to 
Speed  and  Helm.  I  do  not  say  this  simply  because  I  can  say  it,  but 
because  it  is  probably  true.  It  has  been  a  long  time  since  I  got  the  in- 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  81 

formation,  and  as  I  have  passed  through  several  hells  since  1866  and 
7, 1  may  have  forgotten  my  promises.  To  break  this  honor  is  to  ruin 
me  and  your  book.  We  must  walk  discreet  and  have  no  attacks  made  on 
us  that  we  cannot  well  and  truthfully  defend.  Where  we  are  discreet 
as  well  as  true  there  we  can  stand  and  laugh,  defying  all  charges  of 
little  men  and  women.  Your  book  must  not  go  out  with  this  danger 
around  it.  Think  well  of  these  things. 

Any  question  which  will  not  raise  a  howl  against  us,  me,  yourself, 
and  your  book,  quote  freely  from  men  and,  if  you  will  and  must,  women. 

If  I  can  only  stand  on  truth  and  honor,  I  do  not  care  for  the  howls 
of  Christianity,  of  cringing  timids,  of  policies,  of  fools  and  asses.  I 
expect  to  be  attacked  as  no  man  has  been  attacked  lately,  but  I  do 
not  care  for  that  much,  when  I  know  I  have  Truth,  Honor,  and  Pro- 
priety on  my  side.  I  have  long  since  determined  to  tell  the  truth  and 
the  whole  truth  in  reference  to  Mr.  Lincoln's  life,  come  weal  or  woe. 
The  world  wants  one  true  life  of  one  man  to  swear  by  and  they  will 
get  it,  I  hope,  in  your  life  of  Lincoln. 

I  have  just  seen  John  T.  Stuart  and  he  gives  you  this  authority: 
"Use  my  name  on  all  things  except  where  it  would  create  unpleasant 
feelings  and  on  this  question  I  give  Lamon  a  broad  discretion."  If  you 
would  only  write  to  men  and  women,  you  could  get  their  consent  with- 
out any  trouble,  and  how  much  better  and  safer  for  me,  for  you  and 
your  book. 

There  is  nothing  in  Indiana  that  you  cannot  use  that  I  now  re- 
member of.  There  is  nothing  in  the  county  of  Menard,  including  Lin- 
coln's religion,  insanity,  courtship,  etc.,  that  you  cannot  use — Green, 
Cogsdale,  Irwin,  Hill,  Bale,  Spears,  Mrs.  Green,  Mrs.  Armstrong. 
Probably  I  told  Ann  Rutledge's  man,  Lincoln's  rival — forget  his  name 
just  now — that  I  would  not  use  his  name,  left  it  blank  on  the  Ann 
Rutledge  lecture  as  I  suppose  for  that  reason.  You  can  learn  his  name 
from  your  record;  I  think  his  name  is  McNeil  or  McNamar.  .  .  . 
It  is  only  in  cases  that  would  create  unpleasant  feelings,  cruel  criti- 
cisms, etc.,  from  which  you  [are]  forbidden  the  use,  so  you  see  you  have 
a  broad  field,  and  if  you  wish  to  broaden  it,  widen  it,  deepen  it,  thunder- 
cloud it,  in  order  to  flash  and  blaze,  please  write  to  the  persons. 

Suppose  I  know  that  I  made  no  promise  to  any  and  all  persons,  do 
you  not  know  enough  of  human  nature  to  know  that  timids,  cowards, 
policy  men,  squeamish  women,  gray  hard  youths,  fools,  and  asses 


82  THE     HIDDEN     I,  I  N  C  O  !L  N 

would  turn  on  me  if  they  could  make  a  dollar  out  of  it  or  dodge  a 
consequence  of  irritating  circumstances,  and  how  could  I  prove  that  I 
made  no  promise?  You  now  have  my  ideas ;  would  like  to  hear  yours. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Chinkapin,  Sangamon  County,  January  15, 1874. 
Dear  Sir  * : 

You  say  you  desire  to  know  all  possible  things  of  the  great  and  good 
dead.  I  have  just  now  a  few  moments  to  spare,  and  I  do  not  know  how 
better  to  spare  them  than  to  tell  you  what  Mr.  Lincoln  really  was  and 
what  he  was  not.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  kind,  tender,  and  sympathetic 
man,  feeling  deeply  in  the  presence  of  suffering,  pain,  wrong,  or  op- 
pression in  any  shape ;  he  was  the  very  essence  and  substance  of  truth ; 
was  of  unbounded  veracity,  had  unlimited  integrity,  always  telling 
the  exact  truth,  and  always  doing  the  honest  thing  at  all  times  and 
under  all  circumstances.  He  was  just  to  men,  he  loved  the  right,  the 
good,  and  true,  with  all  his  soul. 

I  was  with  Mr.  Lincoln  for  about  twenty-five  years,  and  I  can  truth- 
fully say  I  never  knew  him  to  do  a  wrong  thing,  never  knew  him  to  do 
a  mean  thing,  never  knew  him  to  do  any  little  dirty  trick.  He  was 
always  noble.  In  his  nature  he  felt  noble  and  acted  nobly.  I  never  knew 
so  true  a  man,  so  good  a  one,  so  just  a  one,  so  incorrupted  and  incor- 
ruptible a  one.  He  was  a  patriot  and  loved  his  country  well,  and  died 
for  it,  Mr.  Lincoln  expressed  his  great  feelings  in  his  thoughts,  and 
his  great  thoughts  in  his  feelings  ;  he  lived  in  his  thoughts,  and  thought 
in  his  feelings.  By  these  his  soul  was  elevated  and  purified  for  his  work. 
His  work  was  the  highest  and  grandest  religion,  noble  duty  nobly  dpne. 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  cool  and  calm  under  the  most  trying  circumstances ; 
he  had  unbounded  charity  for  all  men. 

In  religion  he  was  a  theist,  somewhat  after  the  order  of  Theodore 
Parker.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  a  speculative-minded  man;  was,  like 
Washington,  severely  practical ;  he  never  ran  in  advance  of  his  age, 
and  yet  was  always  directing  the  ideas  and  feelings  of  men  to  purely 

i  An  unknown  correspondent,  who  published  it  in  a  newspaper  probably  of  the 
same  year.  An  undated  clipping  has  been  preserved  in  an  old  scrapbook.  It  is  not 
known  whether  the  original  letter  still  exists. 


ABRAHAM   LINCOLN 
From  a  Photograph  by  W.  J.  Thompson 


Henry  C.  Whitney 
Collection  of  Herbert  Wells  Fay 


Truman  H.  Bartlett 
Collection  of  Prof.  H.  W.  Gardner 


Jesse  W.  Weik  Ward  Hill  Lamon 

HERNDON'S  CORRESPONDENTS 


FBOM     HERNDON  83 

practical  ends,  to  something  that  would  end  in  good.  Mr.  Lincoln 
never  shaped  his  veracity,  integrity,  or  virtue  to  circumstances ;  he 
fashioned  and  formed  circumstances,  so  far  as  he  could,  to  virtue, 
veracity,  and  to  integrity.  He  scorned  meanness  everywhere  and  at  all 
times,  and  was  bold  and  manly  in  his  denunciation  of  wrong,  however 
and  by  whoever  done ;  he  was  not  a  foxy,  tricky  man ;  he  was  a  states- 
man high  above  all  tricks.  How  such  a  man  as  Lincoln  could  walk  up 
to  the  highest  point  of  human  grandeur,  from  such  a  low  origin,  God 
only  knows.  But  he  was  so  ordained  from  the  beginning,  and  so  it  is. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  man  of  great  fidelity  to  whatever  he  believed  was 
right — was  true  to  friends,  never  deserting  them  till  they  deserted 
virtue,  veracity,  and  integrity.  Mr.  Lincoln  could  be,  and  was,  trusted 
by  the  people  with  almost  omnipotent  power,  and  he  never  abused  it 
nor  shook  the  public's  faith  in  him.  He  was  true  to  his  trust,  true  to 
his  country,  and  true  to  the  rights  of  man.  What  a  noble  man,  and 
what  a  noble  life  he  lived !  Washington  was  America's  creator ;  Lincoln 
was  its  savior.  Mr.  Lincoln  now  stands  up  against  the  deep  blue  sky 
the  grandest  figure  of  the  age. 

I  have  now  stated  to  you  Mr.  Lincoln's  leading  characteristics,  and 
if  you  like  him  better  for  them  I  am  well  satisfied  with  what  I  have  told 
you.  I  have  weighed  every  word  and  sentence,  and  can  truly  say  they 
are  true  to  Lincoln  and  Lincoln  true  to  them.  Lincoln  was  not  a  very 
social  man.  He  was  not  spontaneous  in  his  feelings ;  was,  as  some  said, 
rather  cold;  he  was  rather  reflective — not  cold.  However,  take  him 
all  in  all,  he  was  as  near  a  perfect  man  as  God  generally  makes. 

Yours  truly, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Section  Three 


Springfield,  III.,  October  8,  1881. 
Mr.  Weik. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  promised,  a  few  clays  since,  to  send  you  an  autograph  of  Mr. 
Lincoln,  if  I  could  find  one  among  my  boxed  papers,  and  that  if  I  could 
not  I  would  send  you  something  more  sacred,  at  least  in  my  own  eyes, 
than  a  mere  autograph.  I,  as  long  ago  as  '75,  promised  to  send  you 
such  writing  or  signature,  if  I  could  find  one.  When  I  received  your 
note  of  July  '81  I  had  not  forgotten  my  promise  nor  you.  This  week 
I  unboxed  my  papers  and  the  result  is  as  follows :  I  found  two  of  Mr. 
Lincoln's  autographs,  only  two  as  yet — one  is  a  letter  written  by 
Logan  &  Lincoln — but  signed  or  written  by  Mr.  Lincoln  in  person — 
which  letter  is  addressed  to  Messrs.  Rowland  Smith  etc.,  of  Louisville, 
Kentucky,  and  dated  April  24,  1844.  The  other  autograph  is  on  a 
leaf  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  copybook  and  is  sacred  on  two  accounts :  first, 
it  is  Mr.  Lincoln's  signature ;  and,  second,  it  is  a  leaf  of  his  arithmetical 
note  or  copybook,  which  as  I  now  remember  bears  date  1824—26—28. 
Now  for  the  how  of  finding  the  precious  book.  Soon  after  Mr.  Lincoln's 
assassination  I  determined  to  gather  up  all  the  facts  of  his  life — 
truly,  honestly,  and  impartially,  whatever  it  might  cost  in  money  or 
infamy — and  to  give  the  facts  to  the  world  as  I  understood  them.  I 
did  so,  and  probably  you  know  the  result.  I  find  that  this  age  is  not 
ready  to  meet  its  own  great  truths ;  it  will  meet  and  grasp  old  truths, 
great  and  noble  ones  that  have  cost  tears  and  blood  way  in  the  morning 
of  the  race  of  man.  In  collecting  and  gathering  up  facts  of  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's young  life  I  went  in  person  to  various  places,  towns,  cities, 
counties,  and  States.  In  order  to  get  at  what  I  wished,  I  went  and  saw 
old  Mrs.  Lincoln,  stepmother  of  the  noble  lad — a  boy,  a  mere  boy  in 
1824-26-28 — in  Coles  County,  Illinois.  This  was,  say,  in  1865.  I  ex- 
amined her,  interviewed  her  in  person,  and  took  notes  of  her  conversa- 
tion. She  rose  in  mind  high  above  her  surroundings,  she  was  a  true 
woman.  She  told  me  then  that  Mr.  Lincoln  used,  when  a  boy,  to  keep 
an  arithmetical  copybook  in  which  he  put  down  his  worked  out  sums. 
She  likewise  then  told  me  that  the  boy  Abraham  was  in  the  like  habit 

84 


LETTERS     FROM     HER2STDON  85 

of  putting  down  in  another  copybook — his  literary  one — all  things 
that  struck  him,  such  as  fine  oratory,  rhetoric,  science,  art,  etc.  He 
likewise  put  things,  wrote  sentences,  on  boards  and  other  places  and 
then  read  them,  looked  at  them,  over  and  over,  analyzed  them,  thor- 
oughly understanding  them.  He  would  translate  them  into  his  boyish 
language  and  would  tell  his  schoolmates,  friends,  and  mother  what 
they  meant,  as  he  understood  them ;  and  tell  his  thoughts  he  would; 
and  his  schoolmates,  friends,  and  mother  must  hear  or  he  would  "bust 
wide  open." 

The  information  thus  given  me  by  the  good  old  lady,  the  kind  and 
loving  stepmother — God  bless  her — put  me  on  nettles,  as  it  were,  and 
so  we  commenced  the  search,  and  found  this,  the  arithmetical  copy- 
book, a  leaf  of  which  you  now  have.  We  could  not  find  the  other  book ; 
it  is  lost  and  lost  forever,  as  our  search  was  thorough.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
gave  me  the  book  with  her  own  hands  or  by  the  hand  of  her  grandson. 
On  this  leaf  you  will  find  some  writing  of  young  Abraham  and  is  as 
follows,  the  want  of  caps  included : 

Abraham  Lincoln 
his  hand  and  pen 
he  will  be  good,  but 
god  knows  when 

On  another  leaf  of  the  same  book  is  this : 

Abraham  Lincoln  is  my  name 

and  with  my  pen  I  write  the  same 

I  will  be  a  good  boy,  but  God  knows  when 

By  this  paper  you  can  tell  the  extent  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  education  in 
1824-26-28.  The  letter  is  dated  in  1844,  at  which  time  and  at  this 
place  he  was  a  great  lawyer.  In  1836  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  tolerably  good 
mathematician,  as  he  was  surveyor  of  Sangamon  County.  What  he 
knew  he  knew  plainly,  clearly,  thoroughly ;  he  ran  things  down  to  the 
ultimate  point,  beyond  which  no  man  ever  went.  Study  what  you  see 
on  these  papers  and  you  will  see  the  general  extent  of  Mr.  Lincoln's 
personally  dug  out  education.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  unbounded  and  un- 
limited confidence  in  his  own  mental  powers,  he  was  himself  and  wholly 
self-reliant,  asking  no  man  anything;  he  searched  for  what  he  wanted, 
dug  it  out  by  the  tap  root,  held  it  out  before  him  till  he  knew  it  inside 


86  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  outside.  Someone  has  said :  "Give  me  the  amount  of  soap  that  a 
people  uses  and  I  can  tell  the  height  of  its  civilization."  Apply  this  rule 
if  rule  it  is  to  these  papers  and  run  out  the  rule.  Many  persons  will 
say  to  scholars — young  men  struggling  to  climb  high —  "Imitate  Mr. 
Lincoln  in  his  methods."  All  of  which  is  right,  but  remember  that  it  is 
the  mind  back  of  its  manifestations  which  is  inimitable,  not  to  be 
imitated ;  it  is  itself  and  nothing  can  be  like  it.  A  rat  cannot  be  an 
eagle.  I  once  said  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  deeply  and  thoroughly  re- 
ligious man  at  all  times  and  places  and  under  all  conditions  and  I  now 
repeat  it :  his  religion  was  of  the  noblest  and  grandest  and  the  broadest 
kind.  Lincoln  was  a  noble  man. 

On  looking  at  this  leaf  and  knowing  Mr.  Lincoln  as  I  do,  what  mem- 
ories cluster  amid  my  central  being,  while  too  writing  this  letter.  Here 
is  the  name  of  Lincoln  before  me,  and  in  my  mind,  and  the  newspapers 
overflowing  with  the  sad  intelligence  of  Garfield's  death.  The  mind 
remembers  Socrates  and  Jesus — double  stars  of  the  Old  World — Lin- 
coln and  Garfield  twin  stars  of  the  New.  Oh,  how  each  suffered  in  his 
own  way  and  for  the  Eternal  Right  1  The  sublime  thoughts,  the  noble 
deeds,  the  proud  acts  of  these  men  will  enter  into  all  future  time  as 
moral  forces  and  divine  energies,  lifting  up  to  a  higher  level  and  a 
grander  plain  the  whole  race  of  man  for  all  coming  time.  The  hand  of 
him  who  wrote  these  sums,  this  simple  poetry,  this  letter,  may  molder 
into  dust,  but  his  name  will  outlast  these  eternal  hills:  he  dreamed 
dreams  of  glory,  and  glory  is  justly  his. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 

P.S.  You  will  perceive  that  this  letter  is  a  hasty  one.  I  have  no  time 
to  tone  it  up  nor  to  rewrite  it. 

HEKNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  November  % 
My  dear  Sir : 

A  few  days  since  I  received  your  kind  note,  for  which  accept  my 
thanks.  Enclosed  you  will  find  a  letter  from  Abraham  Lincoln  to  John 
D.  Johnston — Lincoln's  stepbrother — which  I  promised  to  give  you ; 
it  is  the  only  letter  which  I  have  left  of  Mr.  Lincoln's ;  it  is  a  genuine 
one  written  by  the  great  man  himself.  I  have  kept  the  letter  up  to  this 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  87 

day  as  an  evidence  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  an  atheist ;  and,  had  he 
been  one,  that  fact  would  not  lessen  him  in  my  estimation,  though  not 
one  myself.  I  had  this  letter  once  published,  but  before  so  doing  I 
showed  it  to  several  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  old  and  dear  friends,  who  laughed 
at  me  for  my  credulity  in  believing  that  Mr.  Lincoln  believed  in  im- 
mortality and  heaven,  as  stated  in  the  letter ;  it  was  said  to  be  merely 
a  mes-sage  of  consolation  from  a  dutiful  son  to  his  dying  father.  How- 
ever, I  had  the  letter  published,  and  kept  the  letter  as  an  evidence  that 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  an  atheist.  I  could  have  given  the  letter  away 
many  times,  could  have  sold  it  for  money,  but  I  would  not  part  with  it. 
I  think  the  question  of  his  atheism  is  settled,  and  now  I  present  it  to 
you.  I  may  say  to  you  that  the  letter  has  the  ring,  it  seems  to  me,  of  true 
metal,  and  yet  I  give  no  opinion.  You  have  the  letter  and  the  facts  of 
Mr.  Lincoln's  life  before  you,  and  you  can  judge  as  well  as  I  can.  I 
will  soon  in  this  letter  give  you  a  phase  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  life  not 
generally  known,  and  possibly  it  will  not  be  believed  by  the  worshiping 
world — I  mean  hero-worshiping  world.  I  have  no  reference  to  the 
worship  of  the  religious  soul. 

Mr.  Lincoln  for  years  supported  or  helped  to  support  his  aged 
father  and  mother ;  it  is  to  the  honor  of  [Lincoln]  that  he  dearly  loved 
his  stepmother,  and  it  is  equally  true  that  she  idolized  her  stepson. 
Johnston,  to  whom  the  letter  is  addressed,  was  Lincoln's  stepbrother, 
the  son  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  by  her  first  husband.  Thomas  Lincoln,  the 
father  of  Abraham,  courted  his  second  wife  in  his  youth ;  she  refused 
to  have  him ;  he  then  courted  Nancy  Hanks  and  was  married  to  her.  A 
man  by  the  name  of  Johnston  courted  Miss  Sarah  Bush — Thomas 
Lincoln's  first  flame — and  married  her.  About  the  year  1819  both  Mrs. 
Lincoln  and  Mr.  Johnston  died.  Lincoln  then  in  about  one  year  again 
renewed  his  suit  and  it  was  accepted,  and  they  were  married.  Each  had 
two  children  by  the  first  marriage  and  none  by  the  second.  John 
Johnston  was  an  indolent  and  shiftless  man,  a  man  that  was  "born 
tired,"  and  yet  he  was  an  exceedingly  clever  man,  generous,  and  very 
hospitable.  Lincoln  deserves  great  credit  for  the  care  shown  his  father 
and  mother — hard  cash  and  warm  heart-care.  In  the  very  letter  which 
I  give  you  this  care  is  shown ;  he  says  in  the  letter :  **You  (Johnston) 
already  know  I  desire  that  neither  father  nor  mother  shall  be  in  want 
of  any  comfort,  either  in  health  or  in  sickness,  while  they  live;  and  I 
feel  sure  that  you  have  not  failed  to  use  my  name,  if  necessary,  to 


88  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

procure  a  doctor  or  anything  else  for  father  in  his  present  sickness." 
Dutiful  and  affectionate  son  I  Noble  man !  Mr.  Lincoln  was  very  poor 
at  the  time  this  letter  was  written,  not  worth,  in  property,  more  than 
three  or  four  thousand  dollars. 

Mr.  Lincoln  purchased  a  piece  of  property  in  Coles  County,  this 
State,  as  a  home  for  his  father  and  mother,  and  had  it  deeded  in  trust 
for  their  use  and  benefit.  The  aged  couple  lived  in  Coles  County  at  the 
time.  I  do  not  now  recollect  all  the  particulars,  and  yet  I  once  did.  The 
records  in  Coles  County  will  show  the  facts,  if  anyone  in  the  future 
wishes  to  look  the  thing  further  up.  Here  is  exhibited  parental  love 
and  duty,  backed  up  by  warm  affection,  care,  good  credit,  land,  home, 
and  money.  This  was  true  and  genuine  comfort  and  material  aid.  It 
was  not  all  gush,  sympathy,  and  tears  on  paper ;  it  was  real,  solid, 
genuine  comfort  and  support,  such  as  we  can  live  upon. 

I  now  wish  to  give  you  a  phase  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  life  which  is  not 
generally  known,  nor  will  it  be  believed  readily  by  the  multitude ;  and 
yet  it  will  be  true  to  the  letter  and  the  spirit  of  his  life.  He  was  said  to 
be  a  very  simple-minded  man,  devoid  of  the  silences  and  ambitions  in 
life.  I  would  advise  you  before  you  read  this  letter  to  read  Holland's 
Life  of  Lincoln,  at  pages  241—2,  where  you  will  find  many  diverse 
[undeciphered]  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  Consider  it  inserted  here.  Mr.  Lin- 
coln was  thought,  as  was  before  stated,  to  be  a  very  simple-minded  man. 
He  was  simple  in  his  dress,  manners,  simple  in  his  approach  and  his 
presence.  Though  this  be  true,  he  was  a  man  of  quite  infinite  silences 
and  was  thoroughly  and  deeply  secretive,  uncommunicative,  and  close- 
minded  as  to  his  plans,  wishes,  hopes,  and  fears.  His  ambition  was 
never  satisfied ;  in  him  it  was  consuming  fire  which  smothered  his  [un- 
deciphered] feelings.  Here  he  ran  for  every  legislative  office,  from 
the  trusteeship  of  our  then  little  village  to  the  presidency,  and  during 
all  that  time  I  venture  to  say  that  he  never  wholly  opened  himself  to 
mortal  creature.  He  was  skeptical,  cautious,  and  terribly  secretive, 
confiding  his  plans  and  purposes,  ambitions  and  ends,  to  no  man.  I  have 
known  men  in  our  office  to  listen  to  Mr.  Lincoln's  conversation  for  a 
short  while  and  then  exclaim :  "Oh,  what  a  simple-minded  man  is  Mr. 
Lincoln !  So  plain !  So  unambitious !  So  confiding  I"  and  the  like,  when 
Mr.  Lincoln's  mind  was  not  in  our  office  but  on  a  hot  chase  for  the  end 
so  devoutly  to  be  wished.  Of  all  Americans  he  was,  most  emphatically, 
a  man  of  the  profoundest,  widest,  and  deepest  policies.  He  had  his 


ILETTEBSFROMHEBNDON  89 

burning  and  Ms  consuming  ambition,  but  he  kept  his  secrets  and  opened 
not. 

An  interviewer,  with  the  best  of  intentions  in  the  world,  once  went 
to  Mr.  Lincoln's  room  in  the  White  House  while  he  was  President,  and 
said:  "Mr.  President,  what  do  you  think  of  the  war  and  its  end?"  To 
which  Mr.  Lincoln  politely  and  laughingly  replied :  "That  question  of 
yours  puts  me  in  mind  of  a  story  about  something  which  happened 
down  in  Egypt,  in  the  southern  part  of  Illinois."  The  point  of  it  was 
that  a  man  badly  burned  his  fingers  in  being  in  too  much  haste.  Mr. 
Lincoln  told  the  story  admirably  well,  walking  up  and  down  the  room 
and  most  heartily  laughing  all  the  while.  The  interviewer  saw  the  point 
coming  at  him  like  the  sting  end  of  a  hornet.  As  a  matter  of  course  he 
was  cut  to  the  quick,  and  quickly  downstairs  he  rushed  with  an  oath  in 
mouth,  saying  he  would  "never  interview  that  man  again."  He  was  as 
good  as  his  word,  and  never  tried  to  interview  the  President  again.  And 
thus  it  always  was  with  Mr.  Lincoln.  .  .  . 

While  I  say  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  ambitious,  secretive,  and  some- 
what selfish,  do  not  infer  from  these  words  that  he  was  a  dishonest 
man,  nor  an  insincere  man,  nor  a  hypocrite,  nor  a  mean  man,  nor  a 
base  man.  He  was,  on  the  contrary,  full  of  honesty,  integrity,  sincerity ; 
open,  fair,  and  candid  when  speaking  or  acting.  He  was  for  Lincoln 
always,  but  with  Lincoln's  intense  honesty.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  wise  man, 
a  shrewd  man,  a  long-headed  man,  full  of  his  own  policies.  He  was  a 
marginal  man,  always  leaving  a  blank  on  his  paper,  so  that  the  future 
might  write  the  future  lessons  thereon.  Mr.  Lincoln  hated  speculation, 
had  no  cranks,  was  not  visionary  and  impracticable.  He  had  relatively 
no  imagination  and  no  fancy,  and  was  materially  and  purely  prac- 
ticable. He  had  one  of  the  very  best-balanced  heads  in  America ;  and 
it  was  poised  well  on  his  shoulders.  Henry  Clay  was  his  ideal  states- 
man, a  purely  material  and  practical  man.  Mr.  Lincoln's  man  was 
purely  logical,  and  he  followed  his  conclusions  to  the  ultimate  end, 
though  the  world  perished.  I  never  heard  Mr.  Lincoln  harshly  con- 
demn any  man,  nor  did  I  ever  hear  him  praise  but  two  men :  one  Thomas 
Jefferson,  on  paper;  and  the  other,  Henry  Clay,  in  his  speech  and 
letters,  and  in  his  heart.  Was  this  jealousy,  or  what?  I  think  he  cared 
for  principles,  and  not  much  for  men,  especially  if  he  did  not  want  to 
use  them  for  his  own  ends,  which  were  generally  high  and  noble.  Mr* 
Lincoln  had  no  low  cunning,  was  not  a  trickster,  a  mere  wire-puller. 


90  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

He  scorned  and  detested  all  such  political  arts.  His  mind  required  and 
lived  on  facts,  figures,  and  principles.  He  was  destitute  of  faith  which 
comes  and  goes  without  evidence.  His  own  reason  and  human  experience 
were  his  authority,  and  these  only  with  him  were  authority. 

It  is  a  fact  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  peculiar  man,  a  wonderful, 
marvelous,  and  mysterious  man  to  the  world  generally.  I  was  with  him 
for  about  twenty-five  years ;  and  I  think  I  knew  him  well.  Mr.  Lincoln 
never  took  the  advice  of  any  man  or  set  of  men,  generally  speaking.  He 
never  asked  the  opinion  or  advice  of  any  man.  He  was  self-reliant,  self- 
poised,  self-helping,  and  self-assertive,  but  not  dogmatic  by  any 
means.  He  clung  like  gravity  to  his  own  opinions.  He  was  the  most  con- 
tinuous and  severest  thinker  in  America.  He  read  but  little  and  that 
for  an  end.  Politics  were  his  Heaven,  and  his  Hades  metaphysics.  His 
tendency  in  philosophy  was  materialistic  ;  he  was  an  evolutionist ;  and 
yet,  as  the  letter  now  presented  to  you  shows,  he  believed  in  God,  a 
Maker,  immortality,  and  heaven.  I  am  not  now  advocating  any  par- 
ticular opinion  or  any  object,  nor  denying  one.  I  am  simply  stating 
facts,  letting  each  man  and  woman  draw  his  or  her  own  conclusions.  I 
give  no  decided  opinion  about  the  letter,  except  I  know  it  is  genuine, 
and  now  yours,  which  I  hope  you  will  keep  to  the  end  of  your  time,  and 
then  it  may  descend  to  the  family  as  an  heirloom,  a  great  treasure 
indeed. 

May  I  say  again  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  shrewd  man,  a  long-headed 
man,  a  wise  man,  full  of  policies?  Mr.  Lincoln  knew  that  Senator 
Douglas  was  in  his  way  in  the  North,  and  so  he,  at  Freeport,  deter- 
mined to  kill  him  (politically).  He  put  a  question — and  that,  too, 
against  his  friends*  advice  and  importunities — to  Senator  Douglas, 
which  he  knew  the  Senator  must  answer  one  way  or  the  other,  and  he 
further  knew  that  to  answer  the  question  either  way  was  death  to 
Douglas — death  in  the  North  if  he  answered  one  way,  and  death  in  the 
South  if  another.  It  was  cold,  well-calculated  death  any  way.  Douglas 
answered  and  of  that  answer  he  died.  Again,  after  Douglas's  death, 
in  the  North  was  only  Seward  to  oppose  him  and  Lincoln  determined 
to  kill  or  outstrip  him.  Hence  his  "house  divided  against  itself  speech 
here  in  1858,  and  his  speeches,  his  "irrepressible  conflict"  speeches,  in 
Ohio.  Lincoln  ridiculed  when  he  could  Seward's  "higher  law"  idea, 
scared  some  of  the  Republicans  with  it,  and  got  the  confidence  some- 
what of  the  extreme  Republicans ;  and  in  his  great  Cooper  Institute 


LETTEBSFBOMHEEKDON  91 

speech  in  New  York  in  1860  he  drove  the  nail  in  Seward's  political 
coffin.  All  this  was  planned  and  coldly  calculated  by  Lincoln.  I  know 
this  to  be  true. 

What!  This  a  simple-minded  man?  This  a  politically  "innocent 
dear'*  man?  This  a  mere  thing,  without  ideas  and  policies?  Away  with 
all  such  opinions !  Look  how  he  treated  his  Cabinet  in  the  issuance  of 
his  great  proclamation  of  emancipation.  He  consulted  them  simply 
about  little  and  unimportant  matters ;  and  so  said  to  them  before  he 
read  it.  He  decreed  to  issue  it.  He  simply  wanted  his  Cabinet  to  hear  it 
read,  and  that  is  all.  This  proclamation  was  issued  as  by  doom,  and 
what  he  did  was  not  for  the  love  of  the  slave  or  liberty,  but  to  save  the 
Union.  It  was  to  preserve  his  "oath  registered  [in]  heaven."  He  kept 
his  oath,  saved  the  Union,  and  with  a  quick  dash  of  the  military  pen  he 
freed  four  millions  of  people. 

In  philosophy  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  realist  as  opposed  to  an  idealist, 
was  a  sensationalist  as  opposed  to  an  intuitionalist,  a  materialist  as 
opposed  to  a  spiritualist,  and  yet  remember  what  he  says  in  his  letter. 
I  said  to  you  in  a  private  letter  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  at  all  times  and 
places  and  under  all  circumstances  a  deeply  and  a  thoroughly  religious 
man,  sincerely,  firmly,  broadly,  and  grandly  so.  I  do  not  say  he  was  a 
Christian.  I  do  not  say  that  he  was  not.  I  give  no  opinion  the  one  way 
or  the  other.  I  simply  state  facts  and  let  each  person  judge  for  himself. 

I  say,  in  short,  in  terms  of  contradiction,  if  you  please,  that  Mr.  Lin- 
coln was  a  perfect  and  an  imperfect  man,  a  strong  man  and  a  weak 
one ;  but  take  him  all  in  all,  he  was  one  of  the  best,  wisest,  greatest,  and 
noblest  of  men  in  all  the  ages. 

Most  respectfully  yours, 

WM.  H.  HEUNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  September  15, 1883. 
Editor  of  the  Indianapolis  Herald: 

In  your  issue  of  August  25, 1  see  a  letter  written  by  a  gentleman  by 
the  name  of  J.  W.  Gordon,  which  is  dated  August  20,  1883.  In  that 
letter,  W.  H.  Lamon,  author  of  the  Life  of  Lincoln,  and  myself,  are 
accused  of  laboring  to  cast  reproach  upon  the  parents  of  Abraham 
Lincoln.  The  aim  and  spirit  of  the  letter  are  proper  and  most  excellent. 


92  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

The  writer  and  I  agree  in  sentiment  and  opinion.  No  one  should  cast 
reproach  upon  Nancy  Hanks  and  Thomas  Lincoln  or  Abraham  Lin- 
coln, or  any  of  the  family,  big  or  little.  I  do  not  believe  anyone  can  do 
so.  The  difference  between  Mr.  Gordon  and  myself,  as  well  as  Lamon, 
is  one  of  fact.  The  writer  says  that  Lamon  labored  to  cast  reproach 
upon  his  benefactor,  "by  more  than  intimating  that  they  (Nancy 
Hanks  and  Thomas  Lincoln)  were  never  legally  married."  I  quote 
his  words.  Here  is  a  charge,  in  substance,  that  Lamon  says  in  his 
biography  that  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Hanks  were  never  married. 
The  charge  is  in  substance  explicit.  Now  what  are  the  facts  ?  Lamon 
says  in  his  biography  of  Lincoln,  on  page  10 — I  quote  his  words :  "It 
is  admitted  by  all  the  residents  of  the  place  (Elizabethtown,  Ken- 
tucky) that  they  (Nancy  Hanks  and  Thomas  Lincoln)  were  honor- 
ably married."  Mr.  J.  W.  Gordon  quotes  his  sentence  from  the  same 
book  that  I  do,  and  on  the  same  page,  and  from  the  same  paragraph ; 
and  why  did  he  quote  only  a  part  and  leave  out  the  pith  and  marrow  of 
the  thing?  Mr.  Lamon  admits  that  the  couple  were  honorably  married, 
though  he  failed  to  find  the  written  record  of  the  marriage  in  Hardin 
or  the  adjoining  counties.  Why  does  Mr.  Gordon  misquote  and  mis- 
represent Lamon?  What  was  his  motive  for  doing  it?  Was  the  thing  an 
accident,  an  oversight?  He  quotes  only  a  part  of  what  Lamon  says  and 
leaves  off  the  nib  and  sharp  point  of  the  main  question.  I  shall  make 
no  charges  against  Mr.  Gordon,  because  he  may  have  acted  honestly, 
and  may  have  intended  to  be  fair  in  his  letter  and  the  quotation  therein, 
which  is  substantially  correct  as  far  as  it  goes.  The  gentleman  now 
produces  the  record  of  the  marriage  of  Thomas  Lincoln  and  wife,  and 
I  am  glad  of  it.  Mr,  Lamon  did  search  for  the  records  in  Hardin  and 
adjoining  counties  in  Kentucky,  and  could  not  find  them,  and  he  so 
states  the  case  in  substance.  He  admits  the  marriage — that  it  was 
honestly  done — and  that  it  was  followed  by  mutual  acknowledgment, 
and  by  living  and  cohabiting  together  as  man  and  wife.  The  records 
above  spoken  of  were  found  in  Washington  County,  and  not  in  an 
adjoining  county.  What  more  could  Lamon  say  as  an  honest  biog- 
rapher? No  more.  The  record,  as  exhibited  by  Mr.  Gordon,  shows  that 
Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Hanks  were  married  on  the  23d  day  of 
April  1806,  and  the  Thomas  Lincoln  Bible,  which  I  have  seen,  and 
now  have  a  copy  before  me,  says  (it  is  in  Abraham  Lincoln's  hand- 
writing) that  Sarah  Lincoln  was  born  on  the  10th  day  of  February 


LETTEBSFHOMHERNDON  93 

1807,  less  than  five  months  from  the  marriage.  Sarah  Lincoln  was  their 
first  child.  She  grew  up  and  was  married  to  a  man  by  the  name  of  Aaron 
Grigsby.  Abraham  Lincoln  wrote  out  in  his  own  hand  a  list  of  the 
marriages,  births,  and  deaths  of  the  family  and  put  it  in  the  Thomas 
Lincoln  Bible.  I  suppose  he  forgot  it.  There  may  be  mistakes  in  the 
above  figures.  I  give  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  Thomas  Lincoln  the  benefit  of 
all  doubts ;  it  is  easy  to  err  in  dates  and  figures.  Looking  at  all  the 
facts,  did  Lamon  try  to  cast  reproach  on  Thomas  Lincoln  and  wife? 
Not  a  word  of  it.  He  simply  stated  the  facts  as  they  were  before 
him.  Mr.  Gordon  was  a  little  too  hasty  in  this  matter.  Lamon  under- 
stands the  facts  of  the  case  better  than  Mr.  Gordon  does. 

Now  as  to  myself.  In  the  year  1873,  I  think,  I  delivered  a  lecture 
in  this  city  to  a  large  and  intelligent  audience  in  answer  to  similar 
charges  and  assertions  as  above  by  one  Reed,  James  A.  Reed,  pastor 
of  this  city.  Reed  was  too  hasty  in  this  controversy,  just  as  Gordon 
was  or  is ;  he  burned  his  fingers  just  as  Gordon  has  scorched  his.  Mr. 
Gordon  says  in  the  published  letter,  this:  "Mr.  Herndon  too  has 
seemed  equally  willing  to  cast  reproach  upon  the  memory  of  the  great 
martyr's  parents."  This  I  deny.  No  man  cast  reproach  upon  the  par- 
ents of  Mr.  Lincoln.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  a  good  woman — a  noble  woman 
and  an  intellectual  one.  Thomas  Lincoln  was  a  good  man  and  an  honest 
one.  In  my  lecture  spoken  of  here,  and  by  Mr.  Gordon,  I  said  on  look- 
ing over  the  whole  evidence  then  known  and  before  us  of  the  marriage 
[that  I  knew]  that  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Hanks  were  lawfully 
and  honestly  married.  I  simply  asked  the  question,  did  they  jump  a 
broomstick  as  ceremony  of  marriage,  etc?  The  question  was  simply  a 
question  and  not  a  charge  of  any  kind.  I  was  debating  the  question 
on  the  proofs.  Now  the  proofs  of  the  marriage  in  proper  form  have 
been  put  in  evidence,  and  they  settle  the  question  of  the  marriage  and 
that  is  all  they  do  settle.  There  is  much  behind  them  that  is  not  neces- 
sary now  and  here  to  mention.  I  would  advise  Mr.  Gordon  not  to  jump 
into  print,  nor  enter  into  this  controversy  till  he  understands  all  the 
facts.  I  am  glad  the  records  are  all  produced ;  they  were  produced  be- 
fore Mr.  Gordon  produced  them  as  I  am  informed.  I  am  satisfied  of  the 
lawful  marriage  of  Nancy  Hanks  and  Thomas  Lincoln,  and  now  bless 
their  memories  forever. 

Most  respectfully  yours, 

W.  H.  HEUNDON. 


94*  THE    HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Spring-field,  III,  April  14, 1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  have  just  received  your  letter,  dated  the  12th  inst.,  and  in  answer 
to  which,  in  part,  let  me  say  that  I  am  still  in  court  and  busy,  and  don't 
know  when  1*11  get  out ;  but  when  I  do  I'll  write  to  you.  I  am  glad  that 
you  purpose  writing  some  articles  for  the  Cincinnati]  Com\mercial~\ 
Gaz\_ette\.  .  .  .  Do  not  say  anything  about  my  supposed  theory  of 
Lincoln's  paternity,  as  it  will  be  liable  to  misconstruction.  I  have  the 
facts  of  Lincoln's  paternity,  etc.,  but  have  never  given  them  to  the 
world ;  will  sometime,  it  may  be.  Some  things  are  not  clear  to  me,  only 
have  a  kind  of  "theory"  of  the  thing.  I  wish  you  were  here  and  put 
your  questions  to  me  and  let  me  answer  orally.  However,  I'll  answer  if 
I  can  steal  time  from  my  business. 

I  prefer  what  Lincoln  told  me  about  his  mother  to  what  Dennis 
Hanks  tells.  You  must  watch  Dennis,  criticize  what  he  says  and  how 
he  says  it,  when  and  where  "tight"  or  sober.  Dennis  loves  to  blow.  Den- 
nis came  into  the  world  at  the  back  door  out  of  a  Miss  Hanks ;  his 
father  is  Charles.  Dennis  has  got  things  mixed  up ;  he  purposely  con- 
ceals all  things  that  degrade  the  Hankses.  Dennis  came  out  of  one 
Hanks  and  Lincoln  out  of  another ;  the  girls  were  cousins  as  I  now 
recollect  it.  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  father,  and  Abraham  Enloe 
had  a  severe  fight  over  things.  How  goes  this  -fact  with  Dennis's  sixteen- 
year-old  boy? 

I  saw  the  "great  abolitionist,"  I  think  in  1858,  just  a  little  while 
before  the  race  of  Douglas  and  Lincoln  actually  began ;  went  to  see 
them  at  the  implied  request  of  Lincoln,  as  I  understood  his  hints;  did 
not  let  the  "great  abolitionist"  know  who  sent  me  nor  whom  I  im- 
pliedly  represented;  saw  Trumbull,  Sumner,  Greeley,  Parker,  Phil- 
lips, Garrison,  et  aL;  stated  to  them  what  I  wanted,  i.e.,  what  the  great 
West  wanted.  Told  them  that  Douglas  could  not  be  trusted,  that  Lin- 
coln could,  gave  them  facts  upon  facts,  and  opinion  upon  opinion. 
All  went  well,  except  Greeley.  I  will  write  you  sometime  if  I  get  time.3 

Sorry  to  hear  of  your  rheumatic  ills. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

i  See  letter  to  Weik  of  December  23,  1885. 


LETTERS     FKOMHERNDON  95 

Spring-field,  III.,  October  21,  1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

Mr.  Lincoln's  habits,  methods  of  reading  law,  politics,  poetry,  etc., 
etc.,  were  to  come  into  the  office,  pick  up  book,  newspaper,  etc.,  and  to 
sprawl  himself  out  on  the  sofa,  chairs,  etc.,  and  read  aloud,  much  to 
my  annoyance.  I  have  asked  him  often  why  he  did  so  and  his  invariable 
reply  was :  "I  catch  the  idea  by  two  senses,  for  when  I  read  aloud  I 
hear  what  is  read  and  I  see  it ;  and  hence  two  senses  get  it  and  I  re- 
member it  better,  if  I  do  not  understand  it  better."  Sometimes  in  read- 
ing he  would  have  his  body  on  the  sofa,  one  foot  on  one  chair  and  one 
foot  on  the  table.  He  spilt  himself  out  easily  over  one-quarter  of  the 
room.  I  have  had  to  quit  the  office  frequently  because  of  this  reading 
aloud.  In  reading  at  his  private  house  he  would  turn  his  chair  down,  up- 
side down,  lean  it  down,  turn  it  over,  and  rest  his  head  on  the  back  of 
the  chair,  it  forming  an  inclined  plane,  his  back  and  body  on  the 
carpet,  read  aloud,  stop,  think,  and  repeat  to  himself  what  he  read, 
and  repeat  it  to  you  he  would  or  faint.  He  was  in  no  sense,  except  in 
politics,  a  general  reader ;  he  read  specially  for  a  special  obj  ect  and 
applied  it.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  practical  and  thought  things  useless 
unless  they  could  [be]  of  utility,  use,  practice,  etc.,  etc. ;  he  would 
read  awhile,  read  till  he  got  tired,  and  then  he  must  tell  a  story, 
crack  a  joke,  make  a  jest  to  ease  himself;  he  hated  study  except  for 
the  practical  to  be  applied  right  off  as  it  were.  In  other  words  he 
had  an  end  in  view  always.  He  was  a  long-headed  strong  man ;  he  was 
reflective,  not  spontaneous ;  he  was  not  a  very  generous  man,  had  no 
avarice  of  the  get  but  had  the  avarice  of  the  keep;  he  was  liberal  and 
charitable  in  his  views  of  mankind  in  all  their  relations.  Mr.  Lincoln 
was  a  man  of  thought.  I  have  met  him  in  the  streets  of  this  city  possibly 
a  thousand  times  and  said  to  him :  "Good  morning,  Mr.  Lincoln,"  and 
he  would  spraddle,  walk  along  as  if  I  were  not  in  existence,  so  ab- 
stracted was  he.  Can  you  read  this  ?  Am  hurried,  will  write  you  again 
and  again. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H. 


96  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

Springfield,  III.,  October  28,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

By  Mr.  Lincoln's  course  in  Congress  in  the  Mexican  War  he  po- 
litically killed  himself  here ;  he  offered  some  resolutions  in  Congress 
calling  for  the  "spot"  where  the  first  blood  was  shed  by  the  Mexicans. 
This  was  in  1847-48, 1  think.  Mr.  Lincoln  knew  that  he  was  politically 
dead  and  so  he  went  most  heartily  to  knowledge ;  he  took  Euclid  around 
with  him  on  the  circuit  and  of  nights  and  odd  times  he  would  learn 
Euclid's  problems.  Lincoln  and  I  slept  in  the  same  bed ;  he  read  by 
tallow  candlelight.  The  bedsteads  in  some  cases  were  too  short  and 
so  his  feet  hung  over  the  footboard.  He  would  study  till  twelve  or  one 
o'clock  in  the  night.  At  this  time  he  despaired  of  ever  rising  again  in 
the  political  world ;  he  was -very  sad  and  terribly  gloomy,  was  unsocial 
and  abstracted.  The  Kansas-Nebraska  Bill  was  introduced  into  Con- 
gress in  1854  by  Senator  Douglas.  Lincoln  saw  his  opportunity  and 
Douglas's  downfall ;  he  instantly  on  the  introduction  of  that  bill  en- 
tered into  the  political  field,  and  by  force  of  his  character,  mind,  elo- 
quence, he  became  our  abolition  leader ;  he  was  too  conservative  for 
some  of  us,  and  I  among  them,  and  yet  I  stuck  to  Lincoln  in  the  hopes 
of  his  sense  of  justice  and  the  eternal  right.  I  was  the  abolitionist  and 
kept  on  my  table  such  speeches  as  Theodore  Parker's,  Giddings's, 
Phillips's,  Sumner's,  Seward's,  etc.  Lincoln  and  I  took  from  1853  to 
1861  such  papers  as  the  Chicago  Tribune,  New  York  Tribune,  The 
Anti-Slavery  Standard,  Charleston  Mercury,  Richmond  Enquirer, 
National  Era.  Garrison's  paper  was  sent  me  by  friends.  I  purchased 
all  the  anti-slavery  histories,  biographies,  etc.,  and  kept  them  on  my 
table,  and  when  I  found  a  good  thing,  a  practical  thing,  I  would  read 
it  to  Lincoln.  I  urged  him  along  as  fast  as  I  could.  I  think  I  had  May's 
history  of  the  anti-slavery  movements,  had  the  decennial  report  of 
the  anti-slavery  conventions,  etc.,  can't  call  them  all  over  now.  Lin- 
coln now  from  1854  to  1861  was  in  his  glory,  had  hopes,  bright  hopes, 
to  fill  his  aspirations.  Will  write. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Again  and  again  you  fix  up  in  order  of  time,  etc.,  etc. 
The  list  of  papers,  etc.,  is  important  to  know.  Lincoln  was  well 
posted  on  both  sides.  I  had  a  Southern  work  called  Sociology  by  Fitz- 


SETTEES  FEOM  HEENDON  97 

hugh,  I  think.  It  defended  slavery  in  every  way.  This  aroused  the  ire  of 
Lincoln  more  than  most  pro-slavery  books. 


Springfield,  III,  October  29,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  good  while  preparing  his  "house  divided  against 
itself"  speech ;  he  was  at  it  off  and  on  about  one  month.  If  a  good  idea 
struck  him,  if  a  forcible  one,  he  penciled  down  on  a  small  slip  of  paper 
and  put  it  in  his  hat,  where  he  carried  quite  all  his  plunder,  checkbook 
for  the  bank  account,  letters  answered  and  unanswered,  handkerchief, 
etc.  After  Mr.  Lincoln  had  finished  his  speech  by  putting  piece  to  piece 
and  note  to  note  he  came  into  our  office  early  one  morning  and  said : 
"Billy,  I  want  now  to  read  my  speech,  and  after  I  am  done,  I  want  your 
opinion  of  it  in  all  directions" ;  and  to  which  I  replied :  "Certainly,  Mr. 
Lincoln,  I'll  listen  attentively  to  it  and  give  you  my  opinion  of  it  in 
every  direction."  He  and  I  forgot  to  lock  the  office  door.  When  Lincoln 
had  read  the  speech  about  half  through,  Uncle  Jesse  Dubois,  auditor 
of  [the]  State,  came  into  our  office  and  said :  "Lincoln,  what  are  you 
doing?"  and  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln  said  sharply,  tartly :  "It  is  none  of 

your  d d  business."  Dubois  left  the  office  in  a  huff.  When  he  had 

gone,  Lincoln  commenced  reading  the  remainder  of  his  speech,  and 
when  through  he  then  asked  me  for  my  opinion  of  it.  I  said  to  Mr. 
Lincoln  in  reply  this :  "The  speech  is  a  good  one,  written  with  great 
power,  and  will  bring  you  prominently  before  the  American  people.  It 
is  in  advance  of  the  age,  but  deliver  it  just  as  you  have  written  it."  He 
subsequently  consulted  some  friends  about  it;  some  had  one  view  of 
it  and  some  another ;  some  wanted  this  sentence  struck  out  and  some 
that,  etc. ;  and  then  in  the  presence  of  the  crowd  he  asked  my  opinion 
again  and  I  emphatically  said  to  him:  "Lincoln,  deliver  and  publish 
your  speech  just  as  you  have  written  it ;  it  will  make  you  President  of 
the  United  States."  Lincoln  did  deliver  it  just  as  he  had  written  it  and 
read  it  to  me  in  our  office.  Soon  after  the  election  was  over  and  Lincoln 
was  defeated,  hundreds  of  friends  flocked  into  the  office  and  said  to  Lin- 
coln: "I  told  you  that  that  speech  would  kill  you."  This  mortified 
Lincoln ;  he  would  say  to  them :  "You  don't  fully  comprehend  its  im- 
portance, but  I  suppose  you  all  have  or  will  desert  me  for  that  speech 


98  THE     HIBBEN     XINCOLN 

There  is  one  man  who  will  stick  to  me  to  the  end ;  he  understands  it  and 
its  importance,  and  that  man  is  Billy  Herndon,  my  good  old  and  long- 
tried  friend." 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

Lincoln  had  a  million  of  curses  from  his  foolish  friends  about  this 
speech.  He  hated  it  and  yet  he  was  thoroughly  convinced  that  it  was 
the  thing  in  the  right  time  and  he  lived  to  see  it. 


Spring-field,  III.,  November  11,  1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

Mr.  Lincoln  once  had,  in  an  early  day,  down  in  Coles  County  in  this 
State,  a  heavy  and  a  tight  law  suit.  After  the  trial  and  before  the  jury 
had  agreed,  a  question  arose  in  the  juryroom  as  to  what  was  meant  by 
the  preponderance  of  evidence;  the  jury  at  last  came  into  the  court- 
room and  said:  "We  are  hung  on  the  question  what  is  meant  by  the 
preponderance  of  evidence."  The  lawyers  laughed  at  the  ignorance  of 
the  jury,  but  said  nothing.  The  Court  put  on  its  dignity  and  in  writ- 
ing, verbose  and  long,  wordy  and  intricate,  instructed  the  jury  as  to 
what  was  meant  by  the  preponderance  of  evidence.  The  jury  retired  to 
the  juryroom  and,  on  counting  noses,  they  found  that  "confusion  was 
irorse  confounded."  Soon  they  came  into  the  courtroom  again  and 
said :  "May  it  please  the  Court,  we  are  hung  again  on  the  same  ques- 
tion of  the  preponderance  of  evidence."  The  lawyer  for  the  plaintiff, 
by  the  consent  of  the  Court,  tried  his  hand  on  an  explanation  of  the 
word  to  the  jury ;  he  only  added  darkness  to  midnight  with  the  stars 
and  moon  blown  out  of  sight*  Mr.  Lincoln  then  asked  the  Court  if  he 
might  try  Ms  hand  on  the  question.  The  Court  consented  and  said  to 
Lincoln :  "Do  try  your  hand  on  this  question,  Lincoln."  Lincoln  arose 
and  said :  "Gentlemen  of  the  jury,  did  you  ever  see  a  pair  of  steel  yards 
or  a  pair  of  store  scales?  If  you  did  I  can  explain,  I  think,  to  your 
satisfaction  the  meaning  of  the  word.  If  the  plaintiff  has  introduced 
any  evidence,  put  that  in  the  scales  and  have  it  weighed.  Say  it  weighs 
sixteen  ounces.  If  the  defendant  has  introduced  any  evidence  in  the 
case,  put  that  in  the  scales  ;  and  if  that  evidence  weighs  sixteen  ounces, 
the  scales  are  balanced  and  there  is  no  preponderance  of  evidence  on 
either  side.  There  are  four  witnesses  on  each  side  of  this  case.  If  the 


LETTERS  FROM  HEENDON  99 

plaintiff's  evidence  weighs  one  grain  of  wheat  more  than  the  de- 
fendant's, then  the  plaintiff  has  the  preponderance  of  evidence — his 
side  of  the  scales  go  down,  is  the  heaviest.  If  this  defendant's  evidence 
weighs  one  grain  of  wheat  more  than  the  plaintiff's,  then  the  defend- 
ant's side  of  the  scales  goes  down,  is  the  heaviest ;  and  that  movement 
of  the  scales  tells  what  is  the  preponderance  of  evidence.  Now  apply  this 
illustration  to  the  state  of  your  mind  on  weighing  the  evidence  for  the 
plaintiff  and  defendant."  "We  see  the  point,  Abe,"  said  the  jury.  This 
simple  illustration  of  Lincoln  gained  his  case.  The  defendant  had  the 
preponderance  of  evidence ;  rather,  the  plaintiff  did  not  have  it.  This 
illustration  shows  most  emphatically  that  Lincoln  struggled  to  be 
plain  to  all  minds — and  especially  to  ignorant  ones.  This  was  one  of 
his  fortes. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III,  November  12,  1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  peculiar  man ;  he  was  intensely  thoughtful,  per- 
sistent, fearless,  and  tireless  in  thinking.  When  he  got  after  a  thought, 
fact,  principle,  question,  he  ran  it  down  to  the  fibers  of  the  tap  root, 
dug  it  out,  and  held  it  up  before  him  for  an  analysis,  and  when  he  thus 
formed  an  opinion,  no  man  could  overthrow  it ;  he  was  in  this  particular 
without  an  equal.  I  have  met  Mr.  Lincoln  of  a  morning  or  evening  and 
said  to  him :  "Good  morning,  Mr.  Lincoln."  He  would  be  so  intensely, 
so  deeply,  in  thought,  working  out  his  problem,  his  question,  that  he 
would  not  notice  me,  though  his  best  friend ;  he  would  walk  along,  his 
hands  behind  his  back,  not  knowing  where  he  was  going  nor  doing ;  his 
system  was  acting  automatically.  There  was  no  thought  in  his  actions, 
he  only  had  consciousness.  Some  hours  after  he  had  thus  passed  me,  he, 
on  coming  to  the  office,  would  say :  "Billy,  what  did  you  say  to  me  on  the 
other  side  of  the  square  this  morning  as  we  passed?"  I  would  say:  "I 
simply  said  good-morning  to  you,  Mr.  Lincoln."  Sometimes  this  ab- 
stractedness would  be  the  result  of  intense  gloom  or  of  thought  on  an 
important  law  or  other  question. 

I  once  saw  Mr.  Lincoln  look  more  than  a  man ;  he  was  inspired  by  the 
occasion.  There  was  a  man  living  here  by  the  name  of  Erastus  Wright ; 


100  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

he  was,  his  business  rather  was,  to  obtain  pensions  for  the  soldiers  of 
the  Revolution's  heirs,  widows,  etc.,  the  soldiers  of  1812's  widows, 
heirs,  etc.  An  old  revolutionary  soldier's  widow  applied  to  Wright, 
about  1849—50  to  get  her  pension,  which  amounted  to  about  $400. 
Wright  made  out  the  papers,  got  the  pension,  and  charged  the  poor 
widow  $200,  half  of  what  he  got.  The  poor  old  woman  came  into  our 
office  quite  blind,  deaf,  and  on  crutches,  and  stated  to  Mr.  Lincoln  her 
case.  Lincoln  at  once  sympathized  with  the  woman  and  said :  "Wright 
shall  pay  you  back  $100  or  more."  Lincoln  went  and  saw  Wright  in 
person.  Wright  refused  to  refund.  The  old  woman  commenced  suit, 
Lincoln  giving  security  for  costs.  The  case  finally  got  before  the  jury 
with  all  the  facts  of  the  case  fully  told.  Lincoln  loomed  up,  rose  up  to 
be  about  nine  feet  high,  grew  warm,  then  eloquent  with  feelings,  then 
blasting  as  with  a  thunderbolt  the  miscreant  who  had  robbed  one  that 
helped  the  world  to  liberty,  to  Wright's  inalienable  rights.  Lincoln  was 
inspired  if  man  was  ever  inspired.  The  jury  became  indignant  and 
would  have  torn  Wright  up,  mobbed  in  a  minute,  burst  into  tears  at  one 
moment  and  then  into  indignation  the  next.  The  judge  and  spectators 
did  the  same,  according  to  the  term  that  Lincoln  gave  his  eloquence. 
The  jury  made  Wright  disgorge  all  except  about  $50. 

HEUNDON. 

I  write  you  nothing  but  what  I  know  is  true.  Pick  out  what  you  like 
and  throw  the  balance  to  the  dogs,  am  in  court  and  hurried,  so  ex- 
cuse me. 

HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  November  13,  1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

There  were  three  noted  story-tellers,  jokers,  jesters,  in  the  central 
part  of  this  State  especially  from  1840  to  1853 :  Lincoln  of  Sangamon 
County,  William  Engle  of  Menard,  and  James  Murray  of  Logan. 
They  were  all  men  of  mark,  each  in  his  own  way ;  they  were  alike  in  the 
line  of  joking,  story-telling,  jesting.  I  knew  the  men  for  years.  From 
1840  to  1853  this  section  was  not  known  for  a  very  high  standard  of 
taste,  the  love  for  the  beautiful  or  the  good.  We  had  not  many  news- 
papers ;  people  in  all  of  these  counties  would  attend  court  at  the  re- 
spective county  seats.  Lincoln,  Engle,  and  Murray  would  travel 


SETTEES  FROM  HERNDON  101 

around  from  county  to  county  with  the  court,  and  those  who  loved  fun 
and  sport,  loved  jokes,  tales,  stories,  jests,  would  go  with  the  court, 
too,  from  county  to  county.  People  had  not  much  to  do  at  the  time,  and 
the  class  of  people  that  then  lived  here  are  gone,  perished.  It  was  a 
curious  state  of  affairs  indeed.  As  compared  with  now  it  was  rough, 
semi-barbarous.  In  the  evening,  after  the  court  business  of  the  day 
was  over  and  book  and  pen  had  been  laid  [down]  by  the  lawyers, 
judges,  jurymen,  witnesses,  etc.,  the  people  generally  would  meet  at 
some  barroom,  "gentlemen's  parlor,"  and  have  a  good  time  in  story- 
telling, joking,  jesting,  etc.,  etc.  The  barroom,  windows,  halls,  and  all 
passageways  would  be  filled  to  suffocation  by  the  people,  eager  to  see 
the  "big  ones"  and  to  hear  their  stories  told  by  them.  Lincoln  would 
tell  his  story  in  his  very  best  style.  The  people,  all  present,  including 
Lincoln,  would  burst  out  in  a  loud  laugh  and  a  hurrah  at  the  story.  The 
listeners,  so  soon  as  the  laugh  and  the  hurrah  had  passed  and  silence 
had  come  in  for  its  turn,  would  cry  out :  "Now,  Uncle  Billy  (William 
Engle) ,  you  must  beat  that  or  go  home."  Engle  would  clear  his  throat 
and  say:  "Boys,  the  story  just  told  by  Lincoln  puts  me  in  mind  of  a 
story  that  I  heard  when  a  boy."  He  would  tell  it  and  tell  it  well.  The 
people  would  clap  their  hands,  stamp  their  feet,  hurrah,  yell,  shout  get 
up,  hold  their  aching  sides.  Things  would  soon  calm  down.  There  was 
politeness  and  etiquette  in  it.  Each  must  have  his  turn,  by  comity  in 
which  to  tell  his  story.  The  good  people  would,  as  soon  as  quiet  reigned, 
cry  out :  "Now  is  your  time ;  come,  Murray,  do  your  level  best  or  never 
come  here  again  to  tell  your  stories."  Murray  would  prepare  himself 
with  his  best.  At  first  he  would  be  a  little  nervous,  but  he  would  soon 
gather  confidence,  rise  up,  walk  about,  telling  his  tale  as  he  moved  in 
harmony  with  his  story ;  he  would  tell  it  well,  grandly,  and  the  people 
would  sometimes  before  the  story  was  ended  catch  the  point  and  raise 
such  a  laugh  and  a  yell  that  the  village  rang  with  the  yells,  laughs,  and 
hurrahs,  etc.  Lincoln  and  Engle  now  were  nervous  and  anxious  for 
their  turns  to  come  around.  Lincoln  would  tell  his  story  and  then 
followed  Engle  and  then  came  Murray  and  thus  this  story-telling,  jok- 
ing, jesting,  would  be  kept  up  till  one  or  two  o'clock  in  the  night,  and 
thus  night  after  night  t}11  the  court  adjourned  for  that  term.  In  the 
morning  we  would  all  be  sore  all  through  from  excessive  laughing — the 
judge,  the  lawyers,  jurymen,  witnesses,  and  all.  Our  sides  and  back 
would  ache.  This  was  a  gay  time  and  I'll  never  see  it  again.  This  is  or 


102  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

was  the  way  we  old  Westerners  passed  away  our  time.  We  loved  fun  and 
sport — anything  for  amusement.  We  had  no  learning  but  had  good 
common  sense  with  a  liberal  broad  view  of  things,  were  generous  and 
as  brave  as  Caesar.  When  court  had  adjourned  in  Sangamon  County, 
we  went  to  Menard  and  then  to  Logan  County.  This  story-telling 
was  kept  up  faithfully  from  county  to  county  and  from  term  to  term 
and  from  year  to  year.  This  custom  or  habit  was  our  platform,  show, 
Negro  minstrel — was  our  all  in  the  way  of  fun.  The  old  knew  it,  the 
young  can't  conceive  it.  Each  age  has  its  own  sport  and  so  with  each 
people.  This  may  seem  folly  now,  but  it  was  real  life  to  us  then.  All  that 
we  had  to  do,  all  that  we  could  do,  was  to  have  j  oy  and  happiness  in  our 
own  way.  This  old  state  of  society  was  rude,  but  it  had  its  virtues ;  it 
was  sincere  and  honest.  My  old  settler's  speech  which  I  sent  you  will 
help  you  to  paint  the  scene.  Draw  on  your  imagination  and  fill  up ;  it 
will  please  the  people  who  read  the  story,  people,  state  of  society,  etc., 
etc. 

Pick  out  what  you  like  and  cast  away  the  balance.  I  have  no  time  to 
elaborate,  amplify,  etc.,  nor  correct. 

I  forgot  to  say  in  my  Wright  story — the  old  revolutionary  woman 
story — that  Lincoln  volunteered  his  services,  charged  nothing,  and 
paid  her  hotel  bill,  etc.  Correct  the  error. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  November  lh  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

As  early  as  1860  Mr.  Lincoln  had  reason  to  believe  that  he  would  be 
assassinated  or  that  an  attempt  would  be  made  to  do  it.  On  the  day 
of  the  presidential  election  in  November  1860  I  went  into  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's office  in  the  State  house  and  said  to  Lincoln:  "Lincoln,  you 
ought  to  go  and  vote  for  the  State  ticket."  He  replied:  "Do  you  really 
think  I  ought  to  vote?"  and  to  which  I  said:  "Most  certainly  you 
ought.  One  vote  may  gain  or  lose  the  Governor,  Legislature,  etc."  He 
then  remarked :  "I  guess  I'll  go,  but  wait  till  I  cut  off  the  presidential 
electors  on  the  top  of  the  ticket."  He  then  cut  off  the  head  of  the  ticket. 
Col.  Lamon  and  Col.  Ellsworth  and  myself  only  were  in  the  room.  I 
winked  to  these  gentlemen  to  go  along  with  Lincoln  and  see  him  safely 


LETTEES     FROM     HEENDON  103 

through  the  mass  of  men  at  the  voting  place.  They  understood  me. 
Lamon  went  on  the  right  side  of  Lincoln,  Ellsworth  on  the  left;  and 
I  at  Lincoln's  back  just  behind  him.  As  we  approached  the  voting 
place,  the  vast  mass  of  men  who  had  gathered  to  vote  and  to  see  Lin- 
coln vote,  as  it  was  whispered  that  Herndon  had  got  Lincoln  to  vote 
or  agreed  to  do  so,  opened  a  wide  gap  for  him  to  pass  on  to  the  voting 
place.  The  Republicans  yelled  and  shouted  as  Lincoln  approached; 
he  was  allowed  to  vote  unmolested,  and  when  he  had  voted  and  came 
out  of  the  courtroom,  the  voting  place,  they  again  yelled  and  shouted. 
I  must  say  that  the  Democrats  on  that  day  and  place  paid  about  as 
much  respect  to  Lincoln  as  the  Republicans  did ;  they  acted  politely, 
civilly,  and  respectfully,  raising  their  hats  to  him  as  he  passed  on 
through  them  to  vote;  they  acted  nobly  on  that  day  and  at  that  place 
and  time.  Lincoln  voted  and  was  glad  of  it. 

Directly  after  the  Lincoln  and  Douglas  campaign  in  1858,  soon 
after  it  was  over,  he,  Lincoln,  commenced  receiving  through  the  post 
office  all  manner  of  odd  pictures  cut  out  of  newspapers,  expressive  of 
pain,  starvation,  sorrow,  grief,  etc.,  etc.  Frequently  threatening  let- 
ters were  received  by  him  through  the  post  office,  all  of  which  he  burned 
at  the  time.  The  receipt  of  these  showed  the  animus  of  the  times  to  Mr. 
Lincoln,  He  said  to  me  once:  "I  feel  as  if  I  should  meet  with  some 
terrible  end" ;  and  so  the  great  man  felt  through  time  and  space  in- 
stinctively his  coming  doom. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield,  III,  November  17,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

In  some  particulars  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  peculiar  man.  For  instance, 
he  was  very  liberal  and  charitable  to  his  fellow-man  and  yet  he  was  not 
a  generous  man  in  his  gifts  or  with  his  money ;  he  had  none  of  the  ava- 
rice of  the  get  but  had  the  avarice  of  the  keep.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  fully 
aware  of  the  imperfections  and  faults  of  the  race,  and  had  great  char- 
ity for  man ;  I  never  heard  him  abuse  anybody  nor  did  I  ever,  except 
once  or  twice,  hear  him  eulogize  anyone;  he  attacked  no  one  on  the 
stump,  because  he  was  aware  of  his  own  lowly  origin.  His  motto,  in  this 
particular,  was:  "Those  who  live  in  glass  houses  should  not  throw 


THE     HIDDEN     [LINCOLN 

stones."  Mr.  Lincoln  loved  such  books  as  Jack  Downing,  Phcenixiana, 
and  Petroleum  V.  Nasby ;  he  was  a  terribly  gloomy  man  and  yet  he 
loved  mirth,  because  it  gave  vent  to  his  gloom  and  his  melancholy.  I 
have  heard  him  say:  "If  it  were  not  for  these  stories,  jokes,  jests,  I 
should  die ;  they  give  vent — are  the  vents — of  my  moods  and  gloom."  If 
you  were  in  your  office  and  wished  to  read  anything  of  interest,  just  be- 
ware how  you  talked.  If  you  said  much,  that  much  would  suggest  to  him 
a  story  that  he  heard  on  the  circuit  or  down  in  Egypt,  the  lower  part  of 
this  State.  The  thing  once  suggested,  there  would  be  an  end  of  your 
reading.  Close  the  book  you  must,  you  couldn't  help  it ;  he  would  tell  one 
story  and  that  would  suggest  another ;  and  so  the  day  would  roll  by 
pleasant  or  unpleasant  to  you ;  he  had  no  hold  up  in  this  particular. 
Tell  his  stories  he  would,  and  read  you  could  not — pleasant  to  you  or 
not  the  mill  would  grind.  Lincoln  was  not  a  social  man,  loved  no  man 
much,  was  more  or  less  selfish,  was  rapt  up  in  his  own  children,  was 
childish  in  this,  a  tool  or  a  slave  to  them,  blind  to  their  faults.  Mr.  Lin- 
coln was  Lawyer,  Politician,  Lecturer,  and  Inventor.  He  succeeded  in 
the  law  and  in  politics,  was  an  utter  failure  as  lecturer  and  inventor. 
Lincoln  sometimes  drank  liquor,  was  a  good  chess-player,  loved 
"fives,"  i.e.,  to  play  ball,  knocking  it  up  against  a  wall  with  the  hand, 
two  or  three  men  on  each  side.  This  letter  is  purposely  miscellaneous 
as  you  may  wish  to  pitch,  throw,  such  things  in  your  piece.  Probably  I 
repeat  some  things,  if  so  excuse  me,  as  I  do  not  keep  notes  of  what 
I  write. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  111.,  November  19, 1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lincoln  never  lived  a  harmonious  life,  and  when  she 
wanted  to  go  to  church  or  to  some  gathering,  she  would  go  at  all 
events  and  leave  Lincoln  to  take  care  of  the  babies.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
couldn't  keep  a  hired  girl  because  she  was  tyrannical  to  her  and  Lin- 
coln perforce  was  compelled  to  look  after  the  children.  Of  a  Sunday, 
Lincoln  might  be  seen,  if  in  summer  in  his  shirtsleeves,  hauling  his 
babies  in  a  little  wagon  up  and  down  the  pavement  north  and  south 
on  Eighth  Street.  Sometimes  Lincoln  would  become  so  abstracted  that 


LET TEES  FBOM  HEENDON  105 

the  young  one  would  fall  out  and  squall,  Lincoln  moving  on  the  while. 
Someone  would  call  Lincoln's  attention  to  what  was  going  on;  he 
would  turn  back,  pick  up  the  child,  soothe  it,  pacify  it,  etc.,  and  then 
proceed  up  and  down  the  pavement  as  before.  So  abstracted  was  he 
that  he  did  not  know  what  or  how  he  was  doing  and  I  suppose  cared 
less.  If  the  little  one  fell  out  and  Lincoln  was  told  of  it,  he  would  say: 
"This  puts  me  in  mind  of  a  story  that  I  heard  down  in  New  Salem," 
and  then  Lincoln  would  tell  his  story  and  tell  it  well.  The  man  and 
Lincoln  would  sit  down  on  the  curbstone  of  the  pavement  and  finish 
the  forenoon  in  stories,  and  when  Mr,  Lincoln  saw  Mrs.  Lincoln  com- 
ing from  church — she  screaming  because  Lincoln  had  the  child  out 
of  doors  in  the  fresh  air — he  ran  into  his  room  and  gently  took  what 
followed — you  know,  a  hell  of  scolding.  Poor  Abe,  I  can  see  him  now 
running  and  crouching. 

It  happened  that  sometimes  Lincoln  would  come  down  to  our  office 
of  a  Sunday  with  one  or  two  of  his  little  children,  hauling  them  in  the 
same  little  wagon,  and  in  our  office,  then  and  there,  write  declarations, 
pleas,  and  other  legal  papers.  The  children — spoilt  ones  to  be  sure — 
would  tear  up  the  office,  scatter  the  books,  smash  up  pens,  spill  the  ink, 

and  p s  all  over  the  floor.  I  have  felt  many  and  many  a  time  that 

I  wanted  to  wring  their  little  necks,  and  yet  out  of  respect  for  Lincoln 
I  kept  my  mouth  shut.  Lincoln  did  not  note  what  his  children  were  do- 
ing or  had  done.  When  Lincoln  finished  his  business,  he  would  haul  his 
children  back  home  and  meet  the  same  old  scolding  or  a  new  and  in- 
tensified one.  He  bore  all  quite  philosophically.  Jesus,  what  a  home 
Lincoln's  was !  What  a  wife ! 

One  word  about  Lincoln's  honesty  and  fairness.  Many,  many  years 
ago  one  Charles  Matheny  sold  a  piece  of  land  to  a  Mrs.  (I  forget  her 
name)  who  was  Lincoln's  client.  The  number  of  the  acres  in  the  piece 
was  guessed  at  or  a  great  mistake  was  made.  The  lines  of  the  survey 
ran  east,  west,  north,  and  south,  but  from  well-known  obj  ects  to  well- 
known  objects,  called  monuments.  The  price  of  the  land  was  so  much 
per  acre  and  the  deed  showed  the  terms  of  the  sale.  About  the  year  1858 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  written  to  by  the  lady  to  have  her  land  surveyed,  laid 
off  into  lots,  etc.  Lincoln  got  a  compass,  chains,  etc.,  and  surveyed  the 
lands.  In  running  off  the  land  and  calculating  the  number  of  the  acres 
he  found  that  Matheny  had  lost  four  or  five  acres  of  land  in  this  city 
and  that  his  client  had  gained  it — say  four  or  five  acres  more  or  less. 


106  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Old  man  Matheny  in  the  meantime  had  died,  leaving  eight  or  nine  chil- 
dren, some  of  whom  had  died,  leaving  heirs,  children.  Lincoln  wrote  to 
his  client  what  he  had  done  and  what  mistakes  had  been  made  and  ad- 
vised his  client  that  she  ought  in  morals  and  in  law  rectify  the  mistake, 
pay  the  Matheny  heirs  what  was  justly  due  them  according  to  the  acres 
at  the  original  price  agreed  upon.  The  woman  at  first  declined  to  rec- 
tify, but  Lincoln  wrote  her  a  long  letter  again,  stating  what  he  thought 
was  right  and  just  between  the  parties.  Some  of  the  Matheny  heirs  were 
very  poor  and  needy.  Lincoln's  last  kind  and  noble  letter  brought  the 
woman  to  her  own  sense  of  right,  sent  to  Mr.  Lincoln  several  hundred 
dollars.  Lincoln  was  a  friend  to  the  Mathenys  as  well  as  to  his  client ; 
he  took  the  trouble  of  hunting  up  the  scattered  heirs  and  their  de- 
scendants and  paid  them  every  cent  that  was  due  them  and  thus  this 
man,  noble  man,  was  ever  for  justice  and  the  eternal  right.  I  hope  you 
can  make  out  what  I  write.  Correct,  etc.,  etc. — am  this  minute  going  to 
court.  "Excuse  haste  and  a  bad  pen,"  as  this  poor  devil  will  say. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Spring-field,  III.,  November  80, 1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

You  say  that  you  want  one  more  law  case.  I  can  give  it  to  you. 
About  1859  there  lived  in  a  village  about  seventeen  miles  west  of  this 
place  two  young  men  of  the  first  families.  One  of  the  young  men  was 
named  Quinn  Harrison,  grandson  of  the  Reverend  Peter  Cartwright. 
The  other  was  named  Greek  Crafton,  a  young  lawyer  who  studied 
law  with  Lincoln  and  Herndon.  Harrison's  father  was  rich,  and 
Crafton's  father  was  comparatively  poor  and  yet  highly  respected. 
The  village  was  in  this  county  and  called  Pleasant  Plains.  There 
seemed  to  be  a  long-existing  feud  between  the  families  of  Harrison  and 
Crafton,  at  least  between  the  boys,  young  men  about  twenty-three 
years  of  age ;  they  were  young  men  of  promise  at  that  time.  The  young 
men  met  in  a  store  in  Pleasant  Plains  one  day  by  accident  and  some  hot 
words  passed  between  the  two.  Crafton  struck  and  gathered  Quinn 
Harrison  and  threw  him.  Harrison  in  the  scuffle  got  out  his  knife,  cut 
and  stabbed  Crafton  fatally;  he  lived  a  day  or  so  and  died  of  the 
wound.  Harrison  was  arrested  and  a  grand  jury  found  an  indictment 


LETTERS  FHOM  HERNBON  107 

against  Harrison  for  murder.  Lincoln,  Logan,  and  others  were  em- 
ployed by  Harrison.  Governor  Palmer  and  the  State's  attorney  prose- 
cuted. The  lawyers  on  both  sides  were  among  the  ablest  in  the  State. 
The  case  was  one  of  intense  interest  all  over  the  county.  The  case  was 
opened  and  ably  conducted  on  both  sides ;  every  inch  of  ground  was 
contested,  hotly  fought.  All  the  points  of  the  law,  the  evidence,  prac- 
tice, and  general  procedure  were  raised  and  discussed  with  feeling, 
fervor,  and  eloquence.  Lincoln  felt  an  unusual  interest  in  young  Har- 
rison, as  the  old  man,  Peyton  Harrison,  his  father,  had  often  accom- 
modated Lincoln  when  help  was  needed.  During  the  trial,  which  was  a 
long  one,  a  complex  and  a  tedious  one,  the  Court,  Judge  Rice,  decided 
a  question  against  Lincoln's  views  of  the  law.  Lincoln  argued  the  ques- 
tion of  the  law  decided  against  him  with  ability,  eloquence,  and  learn- 
ing, as  Lincoln  had  thoroughly  studied  the  case  in  the  facts,  procedure, 
and  the  law.  Lincoln  submitted  to  the  decision  for  a  considerable  time, 
but  found  that  the  point  decided  against  him,  and  a  material  one,  was 
one  of  the  principal  turning  points  of  the  case.  Palmer  was  pushing  his 
victory  in  the  debate  to  its  legitimate  conclusion — the  utter  defeat  and 
rout  of  Lincoln  and  the  conviction  of  Harrison  of  the  crime  of  man- 
slaughter. Lincoln  begged  time  of  the  Court  to  reargue  the  point.  The 
Court  granted  time.  Lincoln  prepared  himself  well  with  law,  came  into 
court  with  an  armful  of  books,  and  read  the  authorities  plainly  sus- 
taining his  view  of  the  case.  The  Court  was  obdurate,  clung  to  his 
decision,  overruled  Lincoln's  objection,  admitted  the  evidence,  etc. 
Lincoln  could  not  stand  the  absurd  decision,  for  it  was  absurd  and 
without  precedent  in  %fee  broad  world ;  and  in  his  anger  he  rose  up  and 
seemed  inspired  with  indignation,  mingled  with  a  feeling  of  pity  and 
contempt  for  the  judge's  decision.  He  actually  was  fired  with  indigna- 
tion and  spoke  fiercely,  strongly,  contemptuously  of  the  decision  of  the 
Court.  Lincoln  kept,  in  his  anger  and  contempt,  just  inside  the  walls 
of  the  law,  did  not  do  anything,  say  anything,  that  would  be  a  con- 
tempt of  court ;  he  was  careful  and  yet  the  scoring  that  he  gave  the 
Court,  through  its  foolish  decision,  was  terrible,  blasting,  crushing, 
withering.  I  shall  never  forget  the  scene.  Lincoln  had  the  crowd,  the 
jury,  the  bar,  in  perfect  sympathy  and  accord.  The  Court's  decision 
was  ridiculed,  scoffed,  and  kicked  out  of  court.  Lincoln  was  mad, 
vexed,  and  indignant.  When  a  great  big  man  of  mind  and  body  gets 
mad  he  is  mad  all  over,  terrible,  furious,  eloquent,  etc.  The  Court  at 


108  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

last  was  convinced  or  driven  to  pretend  to  believe  that  its  decision  was 
wrong,  overruled  his  former  decision,  sustained  Lincoln's  views ;  and 
so  now  Lincoln  had  the  field  his  own  way,  went  to  the  jury,  was  able, 
eloquent,  powerful,  etc.  Harrison,  through  Lincoln's  courage,  knowl- 
edge of  the  law  and  the  facts  of  his  case,  was  honorably  acquitted — 
the  verdict  of  the  jury  saying  "justified."  It  was  a  proud  day  for 
Lincoln.  Lincoln  was  a  grand  man,  an  imposing  figure  that  day,  I 
assure  you.  The  Court  was  actually  badgered  by  Lincoln  into  its  final 
decision  of  the  case.  Governor  Palmer  couldn't  stop  Lincoln's  force 
and  eloquence.  This  was  a  grand  trial  and  so  paint  it. 

Your  friend, 

W.  EL  HEKNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  November  SI,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

It  seems  to  me  that  in  your  article  you  should  say  something  about 
Lincoln's  nature,  qualities,  and  characteristics ;  and  so  here  goes.  The 
predominant,  the  chief,  qualities,  etc.,  of  Lincoln  are  as  follows :  He 
was  morally  and  physically  courageous,  even-tempered  and  conserva- 
tive, secretive  and  sagacious,  skeptical  and  cautious,  truthful  and 
honest,  firm  in  his  own  convictions  and  tolerant  of  those  of  others, 
reflective  and  cool,  ambitious  and  somewhat  selfish,  kind  to  all  and 
good-natured,  sympathetic  in  the  presence  of  suffering  or  under  an 
imaginative  description  of  it,  lived  in  his  reason  and  reasoned  in  his 
life.  Easy  of  approach  and  perfectly  democratic  in  his  nature,  had 
a  broad  charity  for  his  fellow-men  and  had  an  excuse  for  unreflec- 
tive  acts  of  his  kind,  and  in  short  he  loved  justice  and  lived  out  in 
thought  and  act  the  eternal  right.  The  above  is  correct  in  Lincoln's 
general  life.  I  do  not  say  that  he  never  deviated  from  his  own  nature 
and  his  own  rules.  His  nature,  the  tendency  of  it,  is  as  I  state.  I 
studied  Lincoln  critically  for  thirty-odd  years  and  should  know  him 
well.  Lincoln  struggled  to  live  the  best  life  possible.  This  I  know. 
Sometimes  he  fell  short  of  his  own  ideal,  as  he  has  often  told  me ;  he 
has  told  me  facts  of  his  life  that  were  not  Lincoln's  but  poor  human 
nature's  in  Lincoln.  I  shall  never  tell  them  to  mortal  man  and  of 
this  be  sure.  Lincoln  as  a  whole  was  really  a  most  noble  man. 


iLETTEBS     FB.OM     HEENBON  109 

You  say  that  you  intend  to  write  two  articles :  one  on  Lincoln  as  a 
lawyer  and  one  as  politician.  The  idea  is  a  good  one  and  I  approve  of 
it.  The  fields  are  broad  and  good  as  I  see  it. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 
I  have  weighed  all  my  words  well  before  I  penned  them. 

H. 

Springfield,  III.,  December  ly  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

You  wish  to  know  if  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  the  Todd  aristocratic  family 
did  not  scorn  and  detest  the  Hanks  and  the  Lincoln  family;  and  in 
answer  to  which  I  yell — yes.  Mrs.  Lincoln  held  the  Hanks  tribe  in 
contempt  and  the  Lincoln  family  generally,  the  old  folks,  Thomas 
Lincoln  and  his  good  old  wife.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  terribly  aristocratic 
and  as  haughty  and  as  imperious  as  she  was  aristocratic ;  she  was  as 
cold  as  a  chunk  of  ice.  Thomas  Lincoln  and  his  good  old  wife  were 
never  in  this  city,  and  I  do  not  suppose  that  they  were  ever  invited 
to  visit  Lincoln's  house.  Had  they  appeared,  I  doubt  whether  Mrs. 
Lincoln  would  have  admitted  them.  A  young  lady  by  the  name  of 
Hanks — I  think  Dennis  Hanks 's  daughter — came  to  this  city  about 
1853  and  went  to  school  here ;  she  boarded  with  Lincoln,  but  this 
created  a  fight,  a  fuss,  between  Lincoln  and  his  wife.  This  young  lady 
married  a  doctor  by  the  name  of  Chapman,  I  think.  She  and  her  hus- 
band now  live  or  did  live  in  Charleston  in  this  State ;  they  are  good 
people.  While  the  young  lady  was  here,  Mrs.  Lincoln  tried  to  make 
a  servant,  a  slave,  of  her,  but,  being  high-spirited,  she  refused  to 
become  Mrs.  Lincoln's  tool.  Mrs.  Chapman  is  a  lady ;  she  and  I  used 
to  correspond  about  the  facts  of  Lincoln's  life,  etc.  She  by  nature 
and  in  soul  was  a  better  woman  than  Mrs.  Lincoln.  I  personally  knew 
both.  If  you  tell  the  story,  keep  Mrs.  Chapman's  name  private,  as 
she  would  not  like  it  probably.  I  am  glad  to  know  that  your  eyes  are 
open  about  Dennis  Hanks ;  he  is  a  grand  exaggerator,  if  not  a  great 
liar.  I  believed  nothing  he  told  me  unless  he  was — rather  his  story 
was — verified  by  John  Hanks,  as  good  a  man  as  ever  lived,  an  honest 
man  and  a  truthful  one.  I  am  now  busy  in  court  and  must  dry  up  for 
a  while.  As  facts  come  up  in  my  mind,  I  will  send  notes  to  you  of  what 


110  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

I  know*  You  wish  to  know  something  of  my  visit  to  the  abolitionists 
in  1858;  will  write  you  about  this  when  I  get  time. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

How  do  you  like  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln  generally?  It  is  the 
truest  life  that  was  ever  written  of  a  man  in  my  opinion.  I  do  not 
agree  to  all  it  says.  I  did  not  like  the  19th  chapter  in  all  particulars. 
I  think  it  is  the  19th  chapter. 


Springfield,  III.,  December  4>  1885, 
To  the  Editor  of  the  Religio-Philosophical  Journal: 

I  have  carefully  read  Mr.  Poolers  l  address  on  Abraham  Lincoln, 
published  in  the  Religio-Philosophical  Journal  of  November  28, 
1885.  Mr.  Poole  is  a  stranger  to  me,  but  I  must  say  that  he  struck 
a  rich  golden  vein  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  qualities,  characteristics,  and 
nature,  and  has  worked  it  thoroughly  and  well,  exhaustively  in  his 
special  line. 

I  know  nothing  of  Lincoln's  belief  or  disbelief  in  spiritualism.  I  had 
thought,  and  now  think,  that  Mr.  Lincoln's  original  nature  was 
materialistic  as  opposed  to  the  spiritualistic;  was  realistic  as  op- 
posed to  idealistic.  I  cannot  say  that  he  believed  in  spiritualism,  nor 
can  I  say  that  he  did  not  believe  in  it.  He  made  no  revelations  to  me 
on  this  subject,  but  I  have  grounds  outside,  or  besides,  Mr.  Poole's 
evidences,  of  the  probability  of  the  fact  that  he  did  sometimes  attend 
here,  in  this  city,  seances.  I  am  told  this  by  Mr.  Ordway,  a  spiritual- 
ist. I  know  nothing  of  this  fact  on  my  personal  knowledge. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  kind  of  fatalist  in  some  aspects  of  his  philoso- 
phy, and  skeptical  in  his  religion.  He  was  a  sad  man,  a  terribly 
gloomy  one — a  man  of  sorrow,  if  not  of  agony.  This,  his  state,  may 
have  arisen  from  a  defective  physical  organization,  or  it  may  have 
arisen  from  some  fatalistic  idea,  that  he  was  to  die  a  sudden  and  a 
terrible  death.  Some  unknown  power  seemed  to  buzz  about  his  con- 
sciousness, his  being,  his  mind,  that  whispered  in  his  ear :  "Look  out 
for  danger  ahead!"  This  peculiarity  in  Mr.  Lincoln  I  had  noticed 
for  years,  and  it  is  no  secret  in  this  city.  He  has  said  to  me  more  than 
once :  "Billy,  I  feel  as  if  I  shall  meet  with  some  terrible  end."  He  did 

i  See  the  letter  of  January  5,  1886,  to  Poole. 


LETTERS     FEOM     HEB.NDOST  111 

not  know  what  would  strike  him,  nor  when,  nor  where,  nor  how  hard ; 
he  was  a  blind  intellectual  Samson,  struggling  and  fighting  in  the 
dark  against  the  fates.  I  say  on  my  own  personal  observation  that 
he  felt  this  for  years.  Often  and  often  I  have  resolved  to  make  or  get 
him  to  reveal  the  causes  of  his  misery,  but  I  had  not  the  courage  nor 
the  impertinence  to  do  it. 

When  you  are  in  some  imminent  danger  or  suppose  you  are,  when 
you  are  suffering  terribly,  do  you  not  call  on  some  power  to  come 
to  your  assistance  and  give  you  relief?  I  do,  and  all  men  do.  Mr. 
Lincoln  was  in  great  danger,  or  thought  he  was,  and  did  as  you  and  I 
have  done ;  he  sincerely  invoked  and  fiercely  interrogated  all  intelli- 
gences to  give  him  a  true  solution  of  his  state — the  mysteries  and 
his  destiny.  He  had  great,  too  great,  confidence  in  the  common  judg- 
ment of  an  uneducated  people.  He  believed  that  the  common  people 
had  truths  that  philosophers  never  dreamed  of;  and  often  appealed 
to  that  common  judgment  of  the  common  people  over  the  shoulders 
of  scientists.  I  am  not  saying  that  he  did  right.  I  am  only  stating 
what  I  know  to  be  facts,  to  be  truths. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  in  some  phases  of  his  nature  very,  very  super- 
stitious ;  and  it  may  be — it  is  quite  probable — that  he,  in  his  gloom, 
sadness,  fear,  and  despair,  invoked  the  spirits  of  the  dead  to  reveal 
to  him  the  cause  of  his  states  of  gloom,  sadness,  fear,  and  despair. 
He  craved  light  from  all  intelligences  to  flash  his  way  to  the  unknown 
future  of  his  life. 

May  I  say  to  you  that  I  have  many,  many  times  thoroughly  sym- 
pathized with  Mr.  Lincoln  in  his  intense  sufferings ;  but  I  dared  not 
obtrude  into  the  sacred  ground  of  his  thoughts  that  are  so  sad,  so 
gloomy,  and  so  terrible. 

Your  friend, 
WM.  H. 


Spring-field,  III.,  December  10,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

Your  letter,  dated  the  6th  inst .,  is  at  hand.  I  am  glad  that  you  like 
Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln ;  it  is  the  truest  life  that  was  ever  written  of 
[a]  man.  I  gathered  up  the  facts  cautiously — carefully  and  critically.  I 
know  every  person  whose  name  is  used  in  the  book,  I  think.  I  know  who 


112  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

were  truthful,  who  were  exaggerators,  and  who  were  liars,  etc.  Lamon 
gathered  up  a  few  facts. 

Miss  Owens  is  a  Kentucky  lady,  is  well  educated,  came  to  Illinois 
in  1836-37.  Saw  Lincoln  at  Abie's.  The  lady's  name  is  Mrs.  Vincent x 
of  Missouri.  It  is  no  exaggeration  to  say  that  Mrs.  Vincent  is  an  ac- 
complished lady. 

The  dash  of  which  you  speak  stands  in  the  place  of  a  woman.  I 
cannot  in  honor  answer  further. 

Lincoln  came  to  this  city  in  1837  and  from  that  time  to  1843~44< 
he  and  Speed  were  quite  familiar,  to  go  no  further,  with  the  women. 
I  cannot  tell  you  what  I  know,  especially  in  ink.  Speed  was  a  lady's 
man  in  a  good  and  true  sense.  Lincoln  only  went  to  see  a  few  women 
of  the  first  class,  women  of  sense.  Fools  ridiculed  him;  he  was  on  this 
point  tender-footed.  John  T.  Stuart  is  dead.  Between  Lincoln  and 
Stuart  from  1843  to  1865  there  was  no  good  feeling  of  an  honest 
friendship.  Lincoln  hated  some  of  the  ways  of  Stuart.  Lincoln  felt  no 
jealousy  toward  Stuart.  Stuart  did  toward  Lincoln.  Stuart  in  his 
heart  hated  Lincoln.  John  T.  Stuart  was  seventy-seven  years  of  age ; 
he  was  a  weak  brother  and  a  shy  one,  tricky,  dodger ;  he  and  Lincoln 
did  not  agree  in  politics  since  1853.  Stuart  was  intensely  pro-slavery, 
L.  for  freedom.  S.  and  L.  were  in  partnership  only  about  two  or  three 
years. 

Friend  Weik,  why,  my  good  sir,  I  have  given  away  twenty  years  ago 
all  my  Lincoln  letters ;  he  had  not  been  buried  before  I  was  bounced 
for  everything  I  possessed  that  Lincoln's  fingers  ever  touched.  I  am  a 
weak  brother,  you  know,  and  I  gave  till  I  had  nothing  to  give.  You 
should  have  my  letters  of  Lincoln  if  I  had  any,  you  know. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

Come  and  see  me  and  I'll  tell  you  much  about  men,  times,  women. 
I'll  write  to  you  as  I  get  time ;  will  write  about  my  visit  to  Washing- 
ton, etc.,  etc. 

Spring-field,  III.,  December  16,  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  have  just  thought  of  a  new  fact,  which  is  as  follows :  Some  time 

i  An  error.  She  was  Mrs.  Vineyard,  as  explained  in  the  letter  of  January  1,  1886, 
to  Weik. 


LETTERS     FROM     HERN DON 

about  1855  I  went  into  a  bookstore  in  this  city  and  saw  a  book,  a  small 
one,  entitled,  called,  I  think,  The  Annual  of  Science.  I  looked  over  it 
casually  and  liked  it  and  bought  it.  I  took  the  book  to  Lincoln  and 
H.'s  office.  Lincoln  was  in,  reading  a  newspaper  of  value;  he  said  to 
me :  "Well,  Billy,  you  have  got  a  new  book,  which  is  good,  I  suppose. 
What  is  it?  Let  me  see  it."  He  took  the  book  in  his  hand,  looked  over 
the  pages,  read  the  title,  introductions,  and  probably  the  first  chapter, 
and  saw  at  a  glance  the  purpose  and  object  of  the  book,  which  were  as 
follows :  to  record,  teach,  and  fully  explain  the  failures  and  successes 
of  experiments  of  all  philosophies  and  scientists,  everywhere,  includ- 
ing chemistry,  mechanics,  etc.  He  instantly  rose  up  and  said  that  he 
must  buy  the  whole  set,  started  out  and  got  them.  On  returning  to  the 
office,  he  said :  "I  have  wanted  such  a  book  for  years,  because  I  some- 
times make  experiments  and  have  thoughts  about  the  physical  world 
that  I  do  not  know  to  be  true  or  false.  I  may,  by  this  book,  correct  my 
errors  and  save  time  and  expense.  I  can  see  where  scientists  and  phi- 
losophers have  failed  and  avoid  the  rock  on  which  they  split  or  can 
see  the  means  of  their  success  and  take  advantage  of  their  brains,  toil, 
and  knowledge.  Men  are  greedy  to  publish  the  successes  of  efforts,  but 
meanly  shy  as  to  publishing  the  failures  of  man.  Many  men  are  ruined 
by  this  one-sided  practice  of  concealment  of  blunders  and  failures." 
This  he  said  substantially  to  me  with  much  feeling,  vim,  and  force.  The 
last  time  that  he  spoke  of  the  book  to  me  he  spoke  in  glowing  terms. 
Enclosed  I  send  you  a  letter  of  mine,  published  in  the  Religio- 
Philosophical  Journal  of  December  12,  1885.1 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  IU.9  December  %39  1885. 
Friend  Weik: 

Say  in  the  early  part  of  1858  Mr.  Lincoln  came  into  our  office  in  a 
dejected  spirit.  We  passed  the  compliments  of  the  morning,  did  some 
necessary  and  quite  important  business,  etc.,  etc,  Mr.  Lincoln  sat 
down  on  the  sofa,  seemed  dejected,  melancholic,  spoke  about  politics, 
his  chances  for  Senator,  his  hopes  and  his  aspirations,  spoke  of  the 

i  See  the  letter  dated  December  4,  1885. 


114  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

dodging  and  wriggling  of  Douglas  on  the  Kansas-Nebraska  question, 
said  kindly :  "I  think  Greeley  is  not  doing  me,  an  old  Republican  and 
a  tried  anti-slavery  man,  right ;  he  is  talking  up  Douglas,  an  untrue 
and  an  untried  man,  a  dodger,  a  wriggler,  a  tool  of  the  South  once 
and  now  a  snapper  at  it — hope  he  will  bite  ?em  good ;  but  I  don't  feel 
that  it  is  exactly  right  to  pull  me  down  in  order  to  elevate  Douglas. 
I  like  Greeley,  think  he  intends  right,  but  I  think  he  errs  in  this  hoist- 
ing up  of  Douglas,  while  he  gives  me  a  downward  shove.  I  wish  that 
someone  could  put  a  flea  in  Greeley's  ear,  see  Trumbull,  Sumner,  Wil- 
son, Seward,  Parker,  Garrison,  Phillips,  and  others,  and  try  and  turn 
the  currents  in  the  right  directions.  These  men  ought  to  trust  the  tried 
and  true  men."  This  Mr.  Lincoln  said  to  me  in  substance,  and  I  in- 
ferred from  it,  only  inferred  it,  that  Mr.  Lincoln  wished  me  to  go  and 
see  these  men,  and  see  what  I  could  do  in  the  matter ;  he  knew  that  I 
was  with  the  most  of  these  men  in  constant  correspondence,  and  had 
been  for  years,  long  before  Lincoln  took  his  advanced  anti-slavery 
grounds  on  the  stump.  So  I  bundled  up,  had  plenty  of  money  then, 
never  supposing  that  I  should  want  thereafter,  and  started  east,  on 
the  inferred  hint  to  see  what  could  be  done ;  landed  in  Washington ; 
saw  Trumbull,  Seward,  Sumner,  Wilson;  stated  what  I  wished  of 
them.  They  were  all  right  and  doing  all  they  could  to  stem  the  rising 
tide  of  Douglasism.  I  then  went  to  New  York,  saw  Greeley,  told  him 
politely  and  cautiously  my  story,  said  to  him  that  Douglas  was  a  new 
convert,  was  not  to  be  trusted,  was  conscienceless,  and  without  polit- 
ical principles  or  honor,  etc.  I  said  to  Greeley :  4<You  do  right  in  pat- 
ting Douglas  on  the  back,  but  wrong  when  you  indirectly  hit  Lincoln, 
a  true,  real,  and  long-tried  anti-slavery  man,  in  order  directly  or  in- 
directly to  overthrow  or  kill  Lincoln.  Can  you  not  assist  Douglas 
and  our  cause  by  helping  Douglas  without  stabbing  Lincoln?"  We 
had  a  long  conversation,  but  this  is  the  shell  and  substance  of  it. 
Greeley  said  to  me,  as  I  inferred,  as  I  understood  it,  that  he  would 
most  assuredly  assist  Douglas  in  all  honorable  ways ;  that  he  liked 
Lincoln,  had  confidence  in  him,  and  would  not  injure  him;  that  he 
would  somewhat  change  tactics,  and  be  careful  in  the  future.  Greeley 
was  kind  to  me,  introduced  me  to  many  of  the  leading  Republicans  of 
New  York  City,  had  conversations  with  them  about  the  way  things 
were  moving.  Most  of  them  said:  "Greeley  is  all  right,  has  a  string  to 


LETTERS    PEOM    HEBNDON  115 

pull,  but  will  in  the  end  show  you  his  intents,  etc.,  and  will  justify." 
Greeley  for  some  time  acted  up  to  the  square  thing,  up  to  his  prom- 
ises as  I  understood  them ;  wrote  to  Greeley  that  I  thought  he  had 
passed  the  line,  etc.  He  and  I  had  some  hard  words,  hut  at  last  we 
understood  each  other.  He  said  something  in  his  paper  about  me  that 
was  not  correct.  I  again  wrote  to  Greeley  correcting  him ;  he  apolo- 
gized to  me  through  the  Tribune,  i.e.,  he  explained  and  withdrew  the 
charge,  etc.  From  New  York  I  went  to  Boston,  saw  Governor  Banks, 
Theodore  Parker,  Garrison,  Phillips,  and  put  them  all  right,  if  they 
were  not  right  before,  which  is  more  than  likely.  I  was  gone  about 
one  month,  returned  home,  paid  my  own  expenses.  I  did  not  then  think 
that  the  trip  was  necessary  at  all,  but  to  assure  Lincoln,  to  pacify 
him,  to  make  him  feel  better,  I  went,  and  did  all  that  I  could  for  friend 
Lincoln.  When  I  got  home  I  told  Lincoln  what  I  had  seen  and  done, 
gave  him  my  opinion  that  the  trend,  tendency,  and  march  of  things 
were  all  in  his  favor,  and  that  all  would  come  out  right  side  upper- 
most ;  he  seemed  pleased,  if  not  gratified,  thanked  me  most  heartily. 
From  the  time  that  I  saw  these  mentioned  men  and  hundreds  more, 
including  many  newspapers,  etc.,  I  think  now  that  things  began  more 
and  more  to  work  for  Lincoln's  success.  I  say  I  think  so,  but  do  not 
know  the  cause,  unless  it  be  my  assurance  that  Lincoln,  to  the  anti- 
slavery  cause,  was  as  true  as  steel,  as  firmly  set  as  Garrison,  etc. 

I  saw  many  anti-slavery  ladies,  and  their  heads  were  stubbornly 
for  "Honest  Abe."  This  cheered  me,  for  I  knew  if  the  women  were  for 
Lincoln  that  Lincoln  was  the  coming  man ;  many  said :  "Lincoln  is  not 
radical  enough,  but  he  is  a  growing  man,  has  a  conscience  that  can  be 
educated,  and  the  times  will  do  that,  if  he  has  an  ear  to  hear."  I  had  a 
good  time  of  it,  was  treated  well  by  all  persons,  saw  the  cities,  etc.  .  .  . 

I  may  be  mistaken  in  the  year  in  which  I  went  on  my  trip ;  it  may 
be  I  went  in  1857  or  in  1857-58.  Correct  me  if  I  am  wrong.  It  is  now 
thirty  years  since  I  went  on  the  Lincoln  business,  and  I  may  have 
forgotten  much  of  what  was  said,  when,  where,  etc.,  etc.  Probably,  if 
you  will  refer  to  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln,  it  can  aid  you  in  dates  and 
the  like.  I  may  err  in  some  things. 

I  am  about  pumped  dry,  dry  as  a  sand  desert. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H. 


116  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Springfield,  III.,  December  %9,  1885. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  once  had  an  excellent  library  which  I  was  compelled  to  sell  because 
I  was  too  poor  to  hold  it.  I  owed  money  and  sacrificed  it  to  pay  my 
debts.  I  imported  books  from  London,  through  the  house  of  C.  S. 
Francis  &  Co.  When  I  heard  of  a  good  work,  I  ordered  it,  English, 
French,  or  German,  if  the  two  latter  were  translated.  I  kept  many  of 
my  books  in  my  office,  especially  the  new  ones,  and  read  them.  Mr. 
Lincoln  had  access  to  all  such  books  as  I  had  and  frequently  read 
parts  of  the  volumes,  such  as  struck  his  fancy.  I  used  to  read  to  him 
passages  in  the  books  that  struck  me  as  eloquent,  grand,  poetical, 
philosophic,  and  the  like.  I  would  talk  in  my  own  peculiar  vein  to 
Lincoln  about  what  I  read  and  thought ;  he  would  like  or  dislike  what 
I  read  and  thought,  would  discuss  the  subject  with  me,  sometimes 
animatedly.  Sometimes  we  would  get  into  a  philosophic  discussion, 
sometimes  on  religious  questions  and  sometimes  on  this  question  and 
on  that.  It  was  in  the  world  of  politics  that  he  lived.  Politics  were  his 
life,  newspapers  his  food,  and  his  great  ambition  his  motive  power.  I 
have  given  you  a  list  of  the  newspapers  that  we,  one  or  the  other  of  us, 
took  from  1850  to  1861.  Now  let  me  give  you  the  kind  of  books  which 
Lincoln  had  access  to  and  sometimes  peeped  into.  I  had  all  the  fol- 
lowing books,  i.e.,  the  writers  of  the  works,  their  names,  and  the 
books,  etc.,  they  write.  If  I  did  not  have  all  I  had  the  most  of  them, 
quite  all,  and  hundreds,  if  not  thousands,  of  others ;  they  are  as  fol- 
lows: 

Emerson  Darwin 

Carlyle  Draper 

Parker  Lecky 

McN  aught  Lewes 

Strauss  Renan 

Monell  Kant 

Beecher  Fichte 

Feuerbach  Conson  [  ?] 

Buckle  Hamilton 

Froude  Spencer 

I  include  publications  up  to  1861  only  and  the  like;  took  the  West- 
minster Review.  All  the  above  class  of  books  I  purchased  as  soon  as 
out.  If  in  German  or  French  and  translated,  I  sent  for  and  got 


LETTERS     FROM     HERNDON  117 

through  the  house  of  C.  S.  Francis  &  Co.  of  New  York.  I  kept  abreast 
of  the  spirit  of  the  age  till  financial  troubles  overtook  me  in  1871—75. 
Since  that  time  I  have  not  read  much.  My  poverty  keeps  my  nose  to 
the  grindstone  and  it  is  now  raw.  I  was  of  a  progressive  turn  of  mind 
and  tried  to  get  Lincoln  in  the  same  channel  of  thought.  How  I  suc- 
ceeded, time  and  criticism  can  alone  tell.  If  I  had  any  influence  with 
him  at  all,  it  was  along  the  line  of  the  good,  I  hope  and  believe.  Pos- 
sibly I  have  helped  the  world  a  little  in  my  way,  hope  so.  I  shall  never 
state  fully  or  otherwise  what  I  did  for  Lincoln.  I  shall  never  do  this 
in  writing.  I  will  talk  to  confidential  friends  somewhat  in  a  chat,  but 
never  for  use  nor  publication.  I  can  now  see  Lincoln,  his  image  before 
me ;  it  is  a  sad  beseeching  look.  I  feel  sad. 

Your  good  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  January  1,  1886, 
Friend  Weik:, 

In  my  last  letter  I  gave  you  a  list  of  books  which  Lincoln  more  or 
less  peeped  into.  I  forgot  some  important  ones  on  political  economy ; 
they  are  as  follows :  Mill's  political  economy,  Carey's  political  econ- 
omy, social  science.  McCullough's  political  economy,  Wayland,  and 
some  others.  Lincoln  ate  up,  digested,  and  assimilated  Wayland's  little 
work.  Lincoln  liked  the  book,  except  the  -free  trade  doctrines.  Lincoln, 
I  think,  liked  political  economy,  the  study  of  it.  I  had  American  and 
English  works  besides  those  mentioned  above  on  political  economy. 

The  following  conversation  between  Lincoln  and  myself  about  1858 
is  too  good  to  be  lost.  One  day  I  somewhat  earnestly  complained  to 
Lincoln  that  he  was  not  quick  and  energetic  enough  in  a  particular 
case  to  accomplish  our  ends  and  what  I  thought  was  needed  in  the 
case.  In  a  very  good-natured  way  he  replied :  "Billy,  I  am  like  a  long 
strong  jackknife  doubled  up  in  the  handle.  The  extreme  point  of  the 
blade  has  to  move  through  a  wider  space  before  it  is  open  than  your 
little  short  woman's  knife,  which  you  hold  in  your  hand,  but  when  the 
jackknife  is  open,  it  cuts  wider  and  deeper  than  your  little  thing.  I  am 
six  feet  two  inches  high  and  it  takes  me  a  good  while  to  open  and  to 
act,  so  be  patient  with  me.  To  change  the  figure/'  he  said,  "these 
long  convolutions  of  my  poor  brain  take  time,  sometimes  a  long  time, 


118  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

to  open  and  gather  force,  but  like  a  long,  well-platted,  heavy,  and 
well-twisted  ox  lash,  when  swung  around  and  around  high  in  the  air 
on  a  good  whip  stalk,  well  seasoned,  by  an  expert  ox-driver  and  popped 
and  cracked  and  snapped  at  a  lazy  ox  shirking  duty,  it  cuts  to  the 
raw,  brings  blood,  opens  a  gash  that  makes  the  lazy  ox  sting  with 
pain,  and  so,  when  these  long  convolutions  are  opened  and  let  off  on 
something,  are  they  not  a  power  and  a  force  in  action,  as  you  say? 
You  yourself  have  often  complimented  me  on  my  force  of  expression 
and  now  in  part  you  have  the  desired  why"  This  Mr.  Lincoln  said  to 
me,  and  the  substance  is  his  and  many  of  the  words  are  his  just  as  he 
used  them. 

Lincoln's  First  Inaugural 

Mr.  Lincoln  some  time  in  January  or  February  1861  asked  me  to 
loan  him  Henry  Clay's  great,  his  best  speech  in  1850,  and  likewise 
told  me  to  get  him  President  Jackson's  Proclamation  against  Nulli- 
fication in  1832-33,  I  think,  and  the  Constitution.  I  did  loan  him 
Clay's  speech  of  '50,  General  Jackson's  proclamation,  and  the  Consti- 
tution of  the  United  States.  Lincoln  was  perfectly  familiar  with 
Webster's  reply  to  Calhoun  and  Haynes  in  1833,  I  think.  Lincoln 
read  Webster's  reply  to  Calhoun  and  Haynes  in  18.34-35  in  New 
Salem  while  deputy  postmaster  under  Samuel  Hill.  Lincoln  was 
thoroughly  read  up  in  the  history  of  politics  of  his  country.  Lincoln, 
as  soon  as  I  got  him  what  he  wanted,  went  over  to  Smith's  store  on 
the  south  side  of  the  public  [square?],  went  upstairs  above  Smith's, 
his  brother-in-law,  and  got  his  room  and  then  and  there  wrote  his 
first  Inaugural.  Lincoln  thought  that  Webster's  great  speech  in  reply 
to  Haynes  was  the  very  best  speech  that  was  ever  delivered.  It  is  my 
opinion  that  these  books  and  speeches  were  all  the  things  that  he  used 
in  the  writing  of  his  first  Inaugural. 

Now  about  Mrs.  Vineyard — not  Vincent,  as  I  wrote  to  you.  I  have 
not  heard  from  her.  However,  I'll  tell  you  where  she  lives,  if  you  will 
say  to  her  that  I  referred  you  to  her  and  that  you  are  the  only  man, 
except  Lamon,  whom  I  have  mentioned  her  name  to.  This  is  the  exact 
truth.  Mrs.  Vineyard,  Mary,  lives  or  did  live  in  Western  Missouri; 
she  must  be  78-80  years  of  age ;  she  is,  if  living,  an  intelligent  woman, 
well  educated  and  refined. 

One  word  about  Dennis  Hanks.  When  you  see  him,  ask  him,  in  a 


LET TEES  PEOM  HEEKPON  119 

roundabout  way,  if  Thomas  Lincoln  was  not  castrated  because  of  the 
mumps  when  young.  Dennis  told  me  this  often  and  repeated  it.  Please 
ask  the  question,  won't  you,  and  note  it  down. 

If  you  see  Mrs.  Chapman  and  the  doctor  give  them  ray  best  respects. 
You  had  better  go  down  to  Farmington  in  Coles  and  see  Mrs.  Moore, 
if  living ;  she  is  Lincoln's  stepsister,  as  I  remember  it.  As  you  live  in 
Indiana,  you  had  better  go  and  see  Miss  Jones  of  Gentryville.  Lincoln 
kept  store  or  worked  for  Jones.  When  you  come  up  here,  I  have  an 
idea  to  suggest  to  you. 

Excuse  this  paper  and  my  blunders  on  it. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Spring-field^  III.,  January  5>  1886. 
Mr.  C.  0.  Poole. 
My  dear  Sir : 

In  the  first  part  of  the  nineteenth  century  a  great  and  noble  man 
was  born  to  America  specially  and  to  the  world  generally.  His  life 
was  a  grand  success  and  his  name  stands  high  up  among  the  moun- 
tain men  of  the  world.  Mr.  Lincoln  thought  too  much  and  did  too 
much  for  America  and  the  world  to  be  crammed  into  an  epigram  or 
shot  off  with  a  single  rocket ;  he  was  too  close  to  the  touch  of  the 
divine  everywhere  and  too  near  to  the  suggestions  and  whisperings  of 
nature  for  such  quick  work,  done  with  a  flash.  It  is  said  that  he  was  a 
many-sided  man.  It  will  take  close,  severe,  and  continuous  thought 
through  an  analysis  of  his  character  to  understand  him  or  give  a  just 
idea  of  the  man.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  riddle  and  a  puzzle  to  his  friends 
and  neighbors  among  whom  he  lived  and  moved.  You  wish  to  see  this 
puzzle  solved  and  this  riddle  unriddled.  You  and  the  world  wish,  crave, 
to  know  the  elements  of  Lincoln's  great  and  honored  success.  You 
desire,  you  wish,  for  a  knowledge  of  the  causes  of  his  power  and  the 
secrets  of  his  success.  Having  been  acquainted  with  the  man  for  more 
than  thirty  years,  twenty  years  of  which  he  was  known  by  me  closely 
and  intimately,  I  have  formed  a  settled  opinion,  founded  on  my  own 
observation,  experience,  and  reason,  of  the  man,  and  the  causes  of  his 
power  and  the  secrets  of  his  success,  and  I  propose  to  give  to  the  world 
my  opinion  of  them-  This  is  done,  first,  because  the  man  was  hard,  very 


120  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

difficult  to  understand,  even  by  his  bosom  friends  and  his  close  and 
intimate  neighbors  among  whom  he  associated,  and,  secondly,  because 
the  reading  and  thinking  world  does  not  know  him  today.  I  really  and 
dearly  wish  to  aid  the  good  people  in  forming  a  good,  a  correct  and 
just  opinion  of  the  man.  If  Mr.  Lincoln  could  speak  to  me  this  day,  in 
reference  to  my  purpose  in  writing  this  letter,  he  would  say :  "Tell  the 
truth  and  don't  varnish  me,"  and  I  shall  follow  its  spirit. 

First:  Mr.  Lincoln's  success  in  life  rested  on  his  qualities,  charac- 
teristics, and  nature,  which  are  as  follows  :  First:  he  had  great  reason, 
pure  and  strong ;  he  lived  in  the  mind  and  he  thought  in  his  life  and 
lived  in  his  thought.  Lincoln  was  a  persistent  thinker,  and  a  profound 
analyzer  of  the  subject  which  engaged  his  attention.  Politics  were  his 
life  and  his  ambition  his  motive  power,  newspapers  his  food.  What 
he  read  he  read  for  a  proximate,  near  end ;  he  was  not  a  general  reader ; 
he  was  embodied  reflection  itself;  he  was  not  only  reflective  but  ab- 
stracted. These  wrought  evils  on  his  intellectual  and  physical  sys- 
tem; he  was  a  close,  persistent,  continuous,  and  terrible  thinker;  he 
was  self-reliant,  self-helpful,  self-trustful,  never  once  doubting  his 
own  ability  or  power  to  do  anything  anyone  could  do.  Mr.  Lincoln 
thought,  at  least  he  so  acted,  that  there  were  no  limitations  to  the 
endurance  of  his  mental  and  vital  forces.  In  his  case  from  a  long, 
severe,  continuous,  and  exhaustive  study  of  the  subjects  which  he 
loved,  generally  taking  no  stimulative  food  nor  drinks,  there  followed 
as  a  consequence  physical  and  mental  exhaustion,  a  nervous  morbidity 
and  spectral  illusions,  irritability,  melancholy,  and  despair.  Hence,  I 
think,  comes  a  little  of  his  superstition. 

Secondly,,  Mr.  Lincoln  had  an  active,  breathing,  and  a  living  con- 
science that  rooted  itself  deep  down  in  his  very  being,  every  fiber  of 
which  twisted  around  his  whole  nervous  system.  This  conscience  of 
his  was  a  positive  quality  of  him,  and  it  sent  its  orders  and  decrees  to 
the  head  to  be  executed  there ;  it  was  the  court  of  courts  that  gave 
final  judgments  from  which  there  was  no  appeal,  so  far  as  he  was 
concerned;  he  stood  bolt-upright  and  downright  on  his  conscience. 
What  that  decreed  the  head  and  tongue  and  hands  obeyed  unhesitat- 
ingly, never  doubting  its  justice.  Lincoln  lived  mostly  in  the  conscience 
and  the  head ;  and  these  two  attributes  of  his  were  the  two  great  ones 
of  his  nature,  the  ruling  and  predominant  ones  of  his  whole  and  en- 
tire life.  It  is  thought  by  some  men  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  very 


LETTEBS  PROM  HEBNBON  121 

warm-hearted  man,  spontaneous  and  impulsive.  This  is  not  the  exact 
truth.  God  has  never  yet  made  and  it  is  probable  that  He  never  will 
make  any  man,  any  creature,  all  head,  all  heart,  and  all  conscience. 
His  types  are  of  the  mixed  elements  compounded  to  suit  Himself. 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  tender-hearted  when  in  the  presence  of  suffering  or 
when  it  was  enthusiastically  or  poetically  described  to  him;  he  had 
great  charity  for  the  weaknesses  of  his  fellow-man ;  his  nature  was 
merciful  and  it  sprang  into  manifestations  quickly  on  the  presenta- 
tion of  a  proper  subject  under  proper  conditions ;  he  had  no  imag- 
ination to  invoke,  through  the  distances,  suffering,  nor  fancy  to  paint 
it.  The  subject  of  mercy  must  be  presented  to  him.  The  main  question 
with  Mr.  Lincoln  was :  "Is  the  thing  right,  is  it  just?" ;  and  if  a  man 
was  the  subject  of  his  attention,  the  question  which  he  put  to  himself 
was:  "What  great  truth,  what  principle,  do  you  represent  in  this 
world?"  If  the  thing  was  just,  he  approved  of  it,  and  if  the  man  was 
a  sham,  he  said :  "Begone."  He  was  a  man  of  great  moral  and  physical 
courage  and  had  the  valor  and  bravery  of  his  convictions  and  dared 
cautiously  to  do  what  he  thought  was  right  and  just ;  he  was  cautious 
and  conservative  in  his  nature,  was  prudent  and  wise  in  his  acts,  and 
I  have  often  thought  over-cautious,  sometimes  bordering  on  the  timid. 
Sometimes  he  stood  long  hesitating  between  the  thought  and  the  deed. 

Thirdly:  Mr.  Lincoln's  heart  was  sufficiently  warm  and  he  [was} 
sufficiently  impulsive  and  spontaneous  for  the  broad  field  and  noble 
sphere  of  his  action,  his  and  the  nation's  destiny.  A  governor,  a  judge, 
a  president  in  office,  has  not  legally  much  to  do  with  the  heart,  but 
has  all  to  do  with  conscience  and  reason,  right  and  justice  as  defined 
by  law.  Had  Mr.  Lincoln  been  a  man  of  no  will  and  all  heart,  this  great 
government  would  have  gone  to  wreck  in  1863  or  before.  Come,  was 
not  Mr.  Lincoln  built  and  organized  for  the  occasion?  Was  he  not  the 
right  man  in  the  right  time,  in  the  right  place?  Would  you  have  made 
him  different  ?  How  would  you  have  grouped  the  atoms  or  mixed  and 
mingled  the  elements  of  his  make-up? 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  sad,  gloomy,  and  melancholic  man  and  wore  the 
signs  of  these  in  every  line  of  his  face,  on  every  organ  and  every 
feature  of  it ;  they  were  chiseled  deep  therein,  and  now  the  question 
is:  What  were  the  causes  of  these?  The  causes  were,  first,  possibly 
heredity,  and,  secondly,  his  physical  organization.  Mrs.  Thomas  Lin- 
coln, Abraham's  own  mother,  was  an  uneducated,  somewhat  rough. 


122  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

but  by  nature  an  intellectual,  sad,  and  sensitive  woman.  It  is  quite 
possible  that  Mr.  Lincoln  inherited  this  sadness  and  sensitiveness 
from  his  mother ;  he  was  in  some  particulars  a  very  sensitive  man.  It 
is  probable  that  his  physical  organization,  which  functioned  slowly 
and  feebly,  gave  rise  to  feelings  of  uneasiness,  nervousness,  and  irri- 
tability, gloom,  melancholy,  and  despondency,  if  not  sometimes  of  de- 
spair. Both  of  these,  heredity  and  organization,  may  have  acted  as 
causes.  These  states,  however  caused,  made  him  a  fatalist  in  philos- 
ophy and  a  skeptic  in  matters  of  religion.  His  philosophy  was :  "What 
is  to  be  will  be,  and  no  wish  of  ours  nor  prayers  can  change  nor  reverse 
the  inevitable  decree."  Lincoln's  sad  hopeless  declaration  to  his 
friends  in  Washington,  who  advised  him  to  be  more  careful  of  his 
person  in  the  future  than  he  had  been  in  the  past,  in  substance  was : 
"My  dear  sirs,  [if]  it  is  writ,  it  is  writ."  The  very  idea  that  he  was  in 
the  hands  of  an  invisible,  irresistible,  and  inevitable  deaf  power  which 
moved  as  an  omnipotent  force  evidently  harassed  and  worried  him. 
There  are  two  other  minor  causes  that  may  have  intensified  his  states, 
his  melancholy,  and  the  like ;  they  were,  first ,  his  intense  love  for,  court- 
ship of,  and  untimely  death  of,  Ann  Rutledge,  the  handsome,  sweet, 
and  lovely  girl  of  New  Salem,  and,  secondly,  his  courtship  and  mar- 
riage to  Miss  Mary  Todd.  Lincoln's  married  life  was  a  domestic  hell 
on  earth.  The  whole  sad  story  shall  be  told  sometime.  Twice  in  this 
man's  life  he  walked  that  sharp  and  narrow  line  that  divides  sanity 
from  insanity. 

Men  at  once,  at  first  blush,  everywhere  saw  that  Lincoln  was  a  sad, 
gloomy  man,  a  man  of  sorrow.  I  have  often  and  often  heard  men  say: 
"That  man  is  a  man  of  sorrow,  and  I  really  feel  for  him,  I  sympathize 
with  him."  This  sadness  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Lincoln  and  sympathy  on 
the  part  of  the  observer  were  a  heart's  magnetic  tie  between  the  two. 
This  ^esult  gave  Lincoln  a  power  over  men,  rather  it  was  self -inspired. 
All  men  and  women  always  and  everywhere  treated  him  under  all  con- 
ditions with  great  and  profound  respect,  and  a  close  observer  of  hu- 
man nature  could  see,  detect,  that  much  of  that  deep  respect  issued 
from  the  heart.  Let  me  translate  such  acts  of  respect  and  deference  of 
those  who  ever  saw  him  into  my  own  words.  Those  words  are :  "I  be- 
seech you,  let  me  respect  and  favor  you."  Men  who  do  not  know  Mr- 
Lincoln,  and  never  did,  have  paraded  his  hardships  and  struggles  in 
his  younger  days  in  glowing  words,  or  sad  ones.  Such  an  idea,  such  a 


LETTERS     FROM     HERN DON  123 

description  of  the  man,  is  not  exactly  true ;  he  never  saw  the  minute, 
the  hour,  nor  the  day  that  he  did  not  have  many  financial  friends  to 
aid  him,  to  assist  him,  and  to  help  him  in  all  ways.  His  friends  vied 
with  each  other  for  the  pleasure  or  the  honor  of  assisting  him.  Lincoln 
deserved  all  this  respect  and  confidence ;  he  was  all  honor  and  integ- 
rity, spoke  the  whole  truth  and  acted  it ;  he,  like  all  boys  in  the  great 
West  as  well  as  elsewhere,  had  to  study  in  order  to  learn.  Life  in  his 
case  was  a  comparatively  easy  life,  as  compared  with  the  struggles  of 
the  ambitious  young  man  of  the  East.  There  the  struggle  for  life  is 
the  fiercer.  Lincoln  was  the  favorite  of  everybody — man,  woman,  and 
child — where  he  lived  and  was  known,  and  he  richly  deserved  it.  Lin- 
coln generally  rejected  all  help,  his  idea,  motto,  being:  "Those  who 
receive  favors  owe  a  debt  of  gratitude  to  the  giver  and  to  that  extent 
are  obedient  and  abject  slaves." 

First,  now  if  the  reader  will  but  put  these  four  qualities  of  Lincoln 
together:  first,  namely,  his  great  reasoning  power  with  a  profound 
judgment,  if  he  had  time  to  fully  evolve  and  apply  his  ideas  to  the 
facts  of  life;  secondly,  a  deep  and  living  conscience,  with  a  tender 
heart  in  presence  of  suffering  or  want ;  thirdly,  his  spirit  of  prudence 
and  his  genius  for  practical  sagacity;  and,  fourthly,  a  sadness,  a 
gloominess,  with  somewhat  of  fatalistic  ideas  in  his  philosophy  and 
skepticism  about  his  religion  or  beliefs,  authority,  creeds,  and  forms 
of  religion ;  and  run  them  out  as  causes  into  his  daily  life,  he  will  have 
the  causes  of  his  power  and  the  secrets  of  his  success.  These  have  influ- 
enced me  and  thousands,  if  not  millions,  of  others.  I  felt  these  influ- 
ences when  he  and  I  were  younger,  and  I  feel  them  now.  Because  of 
Lincoln's  great  reason,  his  conscience,  his  heart,  his  sadness,  his  pru- 
dence and  practical  sagacities,  women,  men,  the  people,  and  the  nation 
voluntarily  and  trustfully  threw  themselves  into  his  arms,  clothed 
with  an  almost  infinite  power,  and  as  calmly  and  as  confidingly  and  as 
trustfully  rested  there  as  when  an  infant  goes  to  sleep  in  its  mother's 
loving,  tender,  and  watchful  bosom.  Lincoln  deeply  impressed  this 
trustworthiness  upon  the  people,  and  they  were  never  deceived ;  they 
were  an  impressible  mass  and  he  stamped  it  deep  with  the  word — 
Trust. 

Secondly,  Mr.  Lincoln  continuously  lived  in  three  worlds,  states,  or 
conditions  of  his  existence.  First,  he  lived  in  the  purely  reflective 
and  thoughtful ;  secondly,  in  the  sad,  thoughtless,  and  gloomy ;  and, 


124  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

thirdly,  he  lived  in  the  happy  world  of  his  own  levities.  He  was  some- 
times in  the  one  state  and  then  in  another,  and  at  times  the  transition 
was  slow  and  gradual  and  at  times  quick,  quick  as  a  flash.  Writers, 
respected  ones,  and  biographers  have  said  that  Lincoln  was  a  many- 
sided  man.  If  they  mean  that  he  was  sometimes  reflective  and  thought- 
ful, sometimes  thoughtless,  and  sometimes  cheerful  and  happy,  then 
I  have  no  objections  to  the  idea  of  his  many-sidedness.  I  would  suggest 
a  better  and  a  more  accurate  idea,  and  that  is  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a 
manj-mooded  man.  To  form  a  perfectly  true  idea  of  the  man,  take 
the  first  four  qualities  as  last  mentioned  above  and  the  three  last 
mentioned  and  bunch  them,  and  the  reader  has  a  true  analysis  of  Lin- 
coln's nature  and  a  good  insight  into  the  inner  man.  Every  feeling 
that  Lincoln  felt,  every  thought  of  his,  every  willing  and  action  of  the 
man,  issued,  burst  out  of  and  from  the  qualities,  attributes,  and  states 
above  given.  His  thoughts  were  tinged  and  colored  and  his  acts  fash- 
ioned by  his  moods.  These  must  all  be  considered  and  taken  as  a  whole 
when  Mr.  Lincoln  is  to  be  thoroughly  understood  by  anyone. 

Wishing  to  help  the  people  to  understand  Mr.  Lincoln,  they  must 
indulge  me  in  a  repetition  of  another  idea  so  as  to  keep  the  full  train 
of  thought  in  view.  He  thought,  at  least  he  so  acted,  that  there  were 
no  limitations  to  the  force  and  endurance  of  his  mental  and  vital 
powers.  In  his  case,  from  a  long,  continuous,  severe,  persistent,  and 
exhaustive  thought  of  the  subject  which  he  loved,  as  a  general  rule 
taking  no  stimulative  food  nor  drinks,  there  necessarily  followed,  as  a 
consequence,  physical  and  mental  exhaustion,  a  nervous  morbidity,  a 
sadness,  a  gloom,  a  melancholy,  spectral  illusions,  irritability,  and 
despair.  Hence  it  may  be  comes  his  superstition.  I  state  this  that  men 
see  Mr.  Lincoln  as  I  saw  him  and  knew  him.  This  is  the  sole  reason. 

In  what  Mr.  Lincoln  said  he  suppressed  no  fact  and  suggested  no 
falsehood ;  he  told  the  truth  and  the  whole  truth,  and  this  truthfulness 
and  sincerity  were  written  on  every  organ  and  feature  of  the  face. 
The  observer  saw  this  and  firmly  and  fixedly  believed  and  trusted 
what  he  saw  and  felt.  I  do  not  wish  to  be  misunderstood.  I  have  said 
and  now  say  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  secretive,  silent,  and  a  very 
reticent-minded  man,  trusting  no  man,  nor  woman,  nor  child  with  the 
inner  secrets  of  his  ambitious  soul.  This  man  was  easy  of  approach 
and  perfectly  democratic  in  his  nature.  No  man?  however  humble, 
ever  felt  uneasy  in  his  presence.  Lincoln  was  an  odd  man,  a  singular 


ILETTEBS     FKOM     HEENDOK  125 

man,  awkward,  uncouth,  graceless,  and  somewhat  unsocial.  But  these, 
to  some  repulsive,  aspects  of  his  nature,  like  the  lesser  stars  in  the 
heavens,  were  driven  into  the  dark  infinite  background  by  the  greater 
and  brighter  flaming  ones  of  his  good  intents  beaming  o'er  his  face. 

This  great  man,  for  great  he  was,  has  given  to  the  world  a  great,  a 
grand  character,  and  let  us  all  lovingly  cherish  it  forever.  Mr.  Lincoln 
is  a  true  and  faithful  expression  of  this,  our  age  and  a  good  repre- 
sentative of  it.  Our  generation  and  our  times  will  eloquently  speak  to 
the  great  infinite  future  generations  and  times,  through  our  good  and 
great  man,  who  will  teach  them  our  arts,  sciences,  civilization,  and 
philosophies.  The  good  deeds  of  today  will  run  through  the  race  and 
knit  us  all  together  by  silver  threads,  along  the  lines  of  which  we  of 
today  and  of  this  generation  shall  speak  through  all  times  and  to  all 
generations  of  men. 

Your  friend, 
WM.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  El.,  January  7, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  wish  to  say  a  few  words  about  Lincoln's  education  or  the  prob- 
abilities in  him  of  a  college  and  classical  education.  Mr.  Lincoln  was 
by  nature  a  man  of  peculiarities  and  of  strong  individualities.  His 
expressions  were  strong,  gnarly,  and  original ;  he  had  an  exact  and 
keen  perception,  the  precise  seeing  of  the  thing  or  idea,  and  had  the 
power  of  expression ;  he  studied  expression,  the  keen,  clear  power  of 
exact  utterance  to  convey  his  idea.  Had  he  gone  to  college  and  half 
graduated,  or  wholly  so,  and  before  his  style  was  crystallized,  or  had 
[he]  been  educated  after  he  had  read  our  rounded,  flat,  dull  artistic 
style  of  expression,  writing  or  speaking,  he  would  have  lost,  and  the 
world  would  have  lost,  his  strong  individuality  in  his  speech,  his  style, 
manner,  and  method  of  utterance.  He  would  have  been  a  rounded  man 
in  an  artistic  way,  would  have  sunk  into  the  classic  beautiful.  But  it  so 
happened,  was  so  decreed,  that  his  style,  manner,  method  or  utterance, 
expression,  its  strength,  its  simplicity,  and  rugged  grandeur,  were 
crystallized  long  before  he  became  acquainted  with  the  smooth,  weak, 
and  artistic  style  of  today.  Lincoln  was  Lincoln  and  no  one  else ;  and 
he  spoke  and  wrote  in  Lincolnisms,  PoEsh,  art,  and  literature  grind 


126  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

down  our  peculiarities,  personalities,  and  individualities  and  make  us 
alike  in  expression.  We  sacrifice  strength  and  grandeur  to  art  and 
beauty.  If  you  remember,  I  told  you  that  the  process,  way,  of  Lincoln's 
mental  evolution  was  through  thought  to  JSsop's  fables,  through  these 
to  general  maxims,  from  maxims  to  stories,  jokes,  jests,  and  from  these 
to  clear,  strong  Anglo-Saxon  words  of  power.  In  his  mental  evolu- 
tion he  passed  through  all  these  phases.  I  have  heard  Lincoln  substan- 
tially state  this,  including  the  probabilities  of  the  weakening  process, 
methods,  etc.,  of  a  classical  or  college  education ;  so  I  was  told  this  by 
all  his  friends  in  Indiana  and  his  early  friends  in  Illinois. 

The  flunky,  smooth,  sickly,  weak  artistic  literature  of  the  day, 
ocean  wide  and  as  shallow  too,  would,  like  the  rising  tide  and  reflow, 
the  pulses  and  surges  of  the  sea,  have  ground  the  sharp,  jagged,  and 
rough  corners  off  the  man  like  the  ground  pebbles  into  a  round  pol- 
ished thing,  like  the  pebbles  on  the  beaches  of  the  ocean,  all  quite  alike. 

Lincoln,  you  know,  was  a  complete  success  in  law,  in  politics,  and  as 
a  ruler,  as  President  of  the  United  States ;  he  was  a  flat  failure  as 
inventor,  eulogist,  and  lecturer ;  he  once  tried  to  demonstrate  the  un- 
demonstrable ;  he  thought  that  he  could  completely  demonstrate, 
square  rather,  the  circle ;  he  purchased  tools,  etc.,  with  which  to  make 
the  attempt,  but  failed.  Lincoln  was  keenly  sensitive  to  his  failures, 
and  it  would  not  do  to  mention  them  in  his  presence.  Mr.  Lincoln, 
had  he  taken  up  the  idea,  had  he  thought  it  necessary,  would  have 
taught  the  graces  of  motion,  civilities  of  life,  etiquettes  of  society  and 
its  fashions.  Lincoln  thought  that  he  could  do  anything  that  other 
men  could  or  would  try  to  do ;  he  had  unbounded  confidence  in  himself, 
in  his  capacities  and  powers ;  he  asked  no  man's  advice  and  sought  no 
man's  opinion,  as  a  general,  quite  universal  rule. 

These  peculiarities  and  failures  show  that  Lincoln  had  narrow  and 
shallow  shoals  in  the  river  of  his  being  o'er  which  the  waters  danced 
and  rippled,  but  which  broke  in  the  flashing  sunlight  into  millions  of 
flashing  mirrors,  reflecting  wondrous  beauty  to  the  human  eye,  and 
yet  these  narrow  and  shallow  shoals  only  proved  that  above  them  and 
below  them  there  were  deeper  waters  all  up  and  down  the  great  stream 
of  his  grand  life  that  flowed  onward  and  onward  to  the  deep  inner 
seas  of  the  Eternal.  Such  was  Lincoln. 

It  is  now  late  and  in  the  night,  am  tired  from  my  daily  toil.  Will 
you  have  the  kindness  to  write  me  out  a  copy  of  this  and  send  it  to 


LETTERS  FBOM  HEBNBOK  127 

me?  I  have  no  time  to  do  it,  want  said  copy  for  a  friend  in  New  York. 
So  good  night,  my  friend. 

Your  good  friend, 
W.  H.  HE&NDON. 


Springfield,  IZZ.,  January  8,  1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  have  heard  Lincoln  tell  the  following  facts  on  himself.  In  1850 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  an  applicant,  under  Fillmore's  administration,  for 
Commissioner  of  the  General  Land  Office;  he  made  arrangements  to 
start  for  Washington  and  started  from  Ramsdell's  tavern  in  this 
city ;  he  had  a  companion  in  the  stage,  for  it  was  in  old  stage  times, 
who  was  a  gentleman  from  Kentucky,  educated,  cultured,  and  a  man 
of  accomplishments,  but,  like  all  warm  and  good-hearted  men,  he  loved 
the  good  and  cheerful.  The  two  men,  Lincoln  and  his  friend,  started 
for  Washington  early  in  the  morning,  eating  their  breakfast  before 
day.  After  they  had  got  in  the  stage  and  had  ridden  some  miles,  the 
Kentucky  gentleman  pulled  out  of  his  pocket  a  small  plug  of  the  very 
best  tobacco  from  the  "sacred  soil  of  Virginia,"  and  handed  it  to 
Mr.  Lincoln,  with  a  fine  tortoise-shell  penknife,  and  said  to  Lincoln : 
"Stranger,  will  you  take  a  chew?"  and  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln  said: 
**Thank  you,  I  never  chew."  The  two  rode  on  for  some  miles.  When 
they  got  near  Taylorville,  some  twenty-five  miles  from  this  place  and 
east  of  it,  the  Kentucky  gentleman  pulled  out  a  fine  cigar  case  filled 
with  the  very  best  and  choicest  of  Havana  cigars,  opened  it,  got  out 
his  lighter,  and  said  to  Lincoln :  "Please  have  a  fine  Havana  cigar," 
and  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln  replied  in  his  kindest  manner:  "Thanks, 
stranger,  I  never  smoke."  The  gentleman  lit  his  cigar  and  very  lei- 
surely rode  along  thumping  and  bumping  over  the  rough  road,  smok- 
ing and  puffing  away,  conversing  all  the  while.  Lincoln  and  his  Ken- 
tucky companion  became  very  much  attached  to  each  other.  Lincoln 
had  told  some  of  his  best  jokes  and  the  man  had  spun  out  his  best 
ideas.  They  were  really  much  pleased  with  each  other,  seemed  to  fit 
one  another.  The  Kentucky  gentleman  was  graceful  and  Lincoln 
graceless,  but  somehow  or  other  they  fitted  each  other  like  brother 
chums.  They  rode  on  merrily  and  pleasantly  for  a  long,  long  while  to 
them,  for  it  was  a  tiresome  journey.  The  stand  where  the  two  were  to 


128  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

eat  their  dinners  was  being  approached,  was  seen  in  the  distance.  The 
Kentucky  man  threw  out  of  the  stage  the  stub  of  his  cigar,  opened  his 
satchel  or  other  thing,  and  took  out  a  silver  case  filled  with  the  very 
best  French  brandy,  took  out  the  cork,  got  a  silver  cup,  and  handing 
them  to  Lincoln,  saying :  "Stranger,  take  a  glass  of  the  best  of  French 
brandies,  won't  you?"  and  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln  said:  "No,  I  thank 
you,  mister,  I  never  drink."  This  peculiarity  seemed  to  amuse  the 
Kentucky  gentleman  very  much ;  he  threw  himself  back  against  the 
front  of  the  stage  and  good-naturedly  and  laughing  said :  "See  here, 
stranger,  rather,  my  jolly  companion,  I  have  gone  through  the  world 
a  good  deal  and  have  had  much  experience  with  men  and  women  of  all 
classes,  and  in  all  climes,  and  I  have  noticed  one  thing — "  Mr.  Lincoln, 
here  breaking  in  anxiously,  asked  his  companion :  "What  is  it,  what  is 
it?"  "It  is  this,"  said  the  Kentucky  man.  "My  observation,  my  expe- 
rience, is,  among  men,  that  those  who  have  no  vices  have  d d  few 

virtues."  Lincoln  was  fond  of  a  joke  as  you  know,  looked  at  his  friend 
sharply  to  see  if  it  was  a  joke  or  was  intended  for  an  insult,  intending 
to  pitch  him  out  of  the  stage  if  it  was  an  insult,  and  to  laugh  over  it  if 
a  joke.  Lincoln  was  quickly  convinced  that  the  man  was  good-natured, 
kind,  gentlemanly,  etc. ;  and  then  he  burst  out  into  a  loud  laugh  say- 
ing: "It's  good,  it's  too  good  to  be  lost,  and  I  shall  tell  it  to  my 
friends."  Lincoln  really  laughed  himself  tired,  kicked  out,  in  fact,  the 
bottom  of  the  stage,  tore  out  the  crown  of  his  hat  by  running  his 
hand  through  it,  etc.,  etc.  The  two  friends  became  bosom  ones  and 
landed  in  Washington  together.  The  Kentuckian  got  what  he  wanted 
and  Lincoln  got  defeated,  etc. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNIX>N. 


Springfield,  El.,  January  8,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

It  was  the  habit,  custom,  of  Mrs.  Lincoln,  when  any  big  man  or 
woman  visited  her  house,  to  dress  up  and  trot  out  Bob,  Willie,  or  Tad 
and  get  them  to  monkey  around,  talk,  dance,  speak,  quote  poetry,  etc., 
etc.  Then  she  would  become  enthusiastic  and  eloquent  over  the  chil- 
dren, much  to  the  annoyance  of  the  visitor  and  to  the  mortification 
of  Lincoln.  However,  Lincoln  was  totally  blind  to  his  children's  faults., 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDON  129 

After  Mrs.  Lincoln  had  exhausted  the  English  language  and  broken 
herself  down  in  her  rhapsodies  on  her  children,  Lincoln  would  smooth 
things  over  by  saying :  "These  children  may  be  something  sometimes, 
if  they  are  not  merely  rare-ripes,  rotten  ripes,  hothouse  plants.  I 
have  always  noticed  that  a  rare-ripe  child  quickly  matures,  but  rots  as 
quickly."  Lincoln  was  proud  of  his  children  and  blind  to  their  faults. 
He,  Lincoln,  used  to  come  down  to  our  office  on  a  Sunday  when  Mrs. 
Lincoln  had  gone  to  church,  to  show  her  new  bonnet,  leaving  Lincoln 
to  care  for  and  attend  to  the  children.  Lincoln  would  turn  Willie  and 
Tad  loose  in  our  office,  and  they  soon  gutted  the  room,  gutted  the 
shelves  of  books,  rifled  the  drawers,  and  riddled  boxes,  battered  the 
points  of  my  gold  pens  against  the  stairs,  turned  over  the  inkstands  on 
the  papers,  scattered  letters  over  the  office,  and  danced  over  them  and 
the  like.  I  have  felt  a  many  a  time  that  I  wanted  to  wring  the  necks  of 
these  brats  and  pitch  them  out  of  the  windows,  but  out  of  respect  for 
Lincoln  and  knowing  that  he  was  abstracted,  I  shut  my  mouth,  bit  my 
lips,  and  left  for  parts  unknown.  Poor  boys,  they  are  dead  now  and 
gone !  I  should  like  to  know  one  thing  and  that  is :  What  caused  the 
death  of  these  children?  I  have  an  opinion  which  I  shall  never  state  to 
anyone.  I  know  a  good  deal  of  the  Lincoln  family  and  too  much  of 
Mrs.  Lincoln.  I  wish  I  did  not  know  as  much  of  her  as  I  do ;  she  was  a 
tigress.  I  can  see  poor  Lincoln  woman-whipped  and  woman-carved  [  ?] 
and  yet  sometimes  he  would  rise  and  cut  up  the  very  devil  for  a  while, 
make  things  more  lively  and  "get."  This  woman  was  once  a  brilliant 
one,  but  what  a  sad  sight  to  see  her  in  any  year  after  1862  and  espe- 
cially a  year  or  so  before  she  died ;  she  refused  to  see  any  and  all  minis- 
ters of  the  gospel,  any  preachers,  about  her  hopes  of  heaven  or  fear  of 
hell,  about  God  or  her  own  salvation.  I  guess  her  religion  was  like  her 
husband's,  rather  infidel,  agnostic,  or  atheistic,  etc.,  etc.,  according 
to  moods  or  whims. 

You  state  to  me  that  I  am  the  only  one  of  Lincoln's  friends,  con- 
temporaries, that  is  willing  to  tell  anything  or  much  about  Lincoln 
or  his  family.  There  are  two  good  reasons  for  this :  first,  he  was  well 
and  perfectly  known  by  many,  and,  secondly,  he  trampled  too  often 
and  too  hard  on  the  toes  of  those  who  did  know  him.  Lincoln  out- 
stripped his  contemporaries  and  companions  and  they  feel  a  terrible 
jealousy  against  the  man  who  overheaded,  outstripped  them.  I  have 
seen  this  meanness  often.  I  have  often  said  to  you  that  Lincoln  was 


130  THE    HIDDEN    I,  IN  CO  LIST 

terribly  ambitious  and  to  that  extent  he  was  egoistic,  selfish,  cold.  The 
ruling  people  here,  say  from  1856  to  1861,  do  not,  as  I  think,  do 
right ;  they  are  mum  about  him  except  they  are  forced  to  say  some- 
thing good  of  him  occasionally.  The  people,  the  middle-class,  worship 
Lincoln,  and  the  very  bottom  class  blindly  fall  in  the  currents.  I  feel 
it  my  duty  to  state  to  all  people  my  ideas  of  Lincoln  and  my  knowledge 
of  the  facts  of  his  life  so  far  as  I  know  them.  This  is  my  religion,  has 
been  for  twenty  years,  and  will  be  probably  for  ten  more  years.  I  want 
the  world  to  know  Lincoln. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Spring-field,  Itt.,  January  9, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

Justice  North  of  this  city  was  once  in  St.  Louis  hunting  up  an 
auctioneer.  North  kept  in  this  city  an  auction  room  and  wanted  a 
number  one  auctioneer,  a  practical  and  a  good  one.  Some  gentleman 
in  St.  Louis  recommended  one  Charles  Lewis,  if  I  have  not  forgotten 
the  name;  he  was  somehow  a  nephew  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  or  probably 
other  relative.  North  and  Lewis  made  a  contract.  Lewis  came  up  to 
this  city  as  North's  auctioneer;  he  had  money  and  asked  no  favors, 
got  $60  per  month  from  North  for  his  services.  As  soon  as  he  landed 
here,  he  as  a  relative  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  thought  it  his  duty  to  call  on  his 
aunt.  So  he  went  to  see  her,  knocked  at  the  door,  was  coldly  admit- 
ted, told  Mrs.  Lincoln  who  he  was,  etc.,  etc.  Mrs.  Lincoln's  avarice  at 
once  arose  and  she  told  the  young  gentleman  in  coarse,  cruel,  and 
brutish  language  that  she  did  not  wish  her  poor  relatives  to  pile  them- 
selves on  her  and  eat  her  up.  The  young  man  tried  to  explain  to  her 
that  out  of  respect  he  had  called  to  see  her,  said  he  had  plenty  of 
money  and  had  a  good  position  and  did  not  need  her  charity  and  did 
not  deserve  her  coarse,  savage,  and  brutal  language ;  he  quickly  left 
the  house,  deeply  mortified,  leaving  Mrs.  Lincoln  in  one  of  her 
haughty,  imperious,  and  angry  states.  When  Mr.  Lincoln  returned 
home  in  about  two  hours,  he  at  once  saw  that  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  stand- 
ing square  on  her  ears.  Lincoln  asked  Mrs.  Lincoln  what  was  the 
matter;  she  told  him;  he  knew  that  she  had  acted  the  fool  and  the 
savage.  Mr.  Lincoln  instantly  went  down  to  North's  auction  room, 


LETTERS     FROM     HEBNDON  131 

expecting  to  find  rather  a  rough  young  [man] — but  unexpectedly 
he  found  a  rather  accomplished  fellow — in  order  to  apologize  to  the 
young  man  for  the  cruel  treatment  he  had  received  at  the  hands  of  his 
wife.  The  young  man  made  his  statement  to  Lincoln ;  Lincoln  at  once 
saw  how  it  stood,  apologized  to  the  young  man,  talked  to  him  tenderly 
and  in  a  fatherly  way,  offered  to  assist  him  in  all  ways,  loan  him  funds, 
if  the  young  man  needed  it,  invited  him  to  his  house,  etc.,  etc.  The 
young  man  thanked  Mr.  Lincoln  and  told  him  that  he  did  not  need  his 
assistance,  but  was  much  obliged  to  him,  etc. ;  he  never  went  to  see 
Mrs.  Lincoln  again.  The  young  man  was  heard  to  say :  <tfUncle  is  one 
of  the  noblest  of  men,  but  Aunt  (or  Cousin)  is  a  savage."  This  story 
illustrates  the  difference  between  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Lincoln.  This  was 
about  1858,  probably  1860.  Lincoln  as  a  general  rule  dared  not  invite 
anyone  to  his  house,  because  he  did  not  know  what  moment  she  would 
kick  Lincoln  and  his  friend  out  of  the  house.  This  woman  was  to  me  a 
terror,  haughty,  poor  when  she  married  Lincoln,  imperious,  proud, 
aristocratic,  insolent,  witty,  and  bitter;  she  was  a  gross  [?]  material 
woman  as  she  appeared  to  me.  Look  at  her  picture  and  you  can  see 
what  I  have  seen.  In  her  domestic  troubles  I  have  always  sympathized 
with  her.  The  world  does  not  know  what  she  bore  and  the  history  of 
the  bearing.  1  will  write  it  out  some  time.  This  domestic  TieU  of  Lin- 
coln's life  is  not  all  on  one  side.  I  do  not  and  cannot  blame  Lincoln, 
and  do  not  wish  you  to  suppose  that  I  could  censure  him,  for  I  could 
not.  Wait  patiently  for  all  the  facts.  Mrs.  Lincoln  acted  out  in  her 
domestic  relation  the  laws  of  human  revenge ;  this  is  somewhat  of  my 
meaning,  sit  still  and  *  Vait  for  the  glory  of  the  Lord." 

You  will  please  take  my  notes,  called  letters,  just  as  they  are.  I 
have  no  time  to  read  them  and  correct  them.  When  you  copy  all  or 
parts,  please  correct.  I  have  to  write  in  a  run  and  a  rush,  as  you  know 
the  facts  of  my  business  and  the  conditions  of  my  life.  I  have  to  strug- 
gle today  for  my  tomorrow's  bread. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HEBJSTDON. 


Springfield,  ltt.,  January  9, 1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  know  a  man  now  living,  or  did  live,  in  Menard  County ;  he,  if  living, 


132  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

must  be  eighty  1  years  of  age.  The  name  of  the  man  is  Mentor  Graham ; 
he  was  an  intelligent  man,  a  good  and  a  truthful  man,  and  yet  in  some 
things  he  was  "sorter  cranky.'5  About  the  year  1817  he  was  traveling 

from to  Elizabethtown,  Kentucky.  In  passing  from to  the 

latter  place  he  saw  at  a  little  place  a  crowd  of  men,  stopped,  hitched 
his  horse,  and  went  among  the  crowd,  soon  found  out  that  a  man  had 
killed  his  wife.  Persons  were  expressing  their  horror  of  the  act.  Soon 
after  Graham  had  stopped  Thomas  Lincoln  and  his  boy  Abraham 
came  along  and  stopped,  went  among  the  crowd,  found  out  what  was 
the  matter,  had  some  conversation  with  the  crowd,  and  now  comes  the 
nib  of  this  letter.  After  all  the  people  had  expressed  their  ideas,  one  of 
the  men  said  to  Abraham :  "My  little  boy,  what  do  you  think  of  such  a 
deed?"  The  boy  studied  a  moment,  and  gave  a  terse  and  eloquent  idea 
of  the  cruel  deed.  Graham  says  that  the  boy  was  very  sad,  that  his 
language  was  eloquent  and  feeling  for  one  so  young.  The  remarks 
which  he  made  astonished  all  present,  were  pronounced  good,  plain,, 
terse,  and  strong,  and  says  Graham :  "I  have  now  known  Mr.  Lincoln 
for  more  than  fifty  years  and  I  can  see  the  same  trait  of  character  and 
the  same  style  now  in  Lincoln  that  I  did  in  1817  in  Kentucky;  he 
studies  to  see  the  subject  matter  clearly  and  to  express  it  tersely  and 
strongly.  I  have  known  him  down  here  in  Menard  study  for  hours  the 
best  way  of  any  of  three  to  express  an  idea ;  he  was  a  strong  man  and 
an  honest  one.  I  knew  Lincoln's  relatives  way  back  in  1802-4.  Thomas 
Lincoln  was  a  blank,  but  a  clever  man,  a  somewhat  social  creature. 
How  he  raised  such  a  boy  as  Abe  the  Lord  only  knows." 

The  above  I  know  to  be  true  so  far  as  this :  Lincoln  always  strug- 
gled to  see  the  thing  or  the  idea  exactly  and  to  express  that  idea  in 
such  language  as  to  convey  that  idea  precisely.  When  a  young  boy 
he  read  pretty  much  all  the  books  in  the  neighborhood,  and  they  were 
not  more  than  a  dozen.  If  he  found  anything  worthy  of  his  thoughts, 
he  would  write  it  down,  commit  it  to  memory,  then  analyze  it  while 
he  held  it  firmly  in  consciousness,  in  his  mind.  When  this  was  done,  he 
would  tell  it  o'er  and  o'er  to  his  stepmother  and  friends ;  and  I  can  say 
the  same  thing  with  this  addition :  that  he  used  to  bore  me  terribly  by 
his  methods,  processes,  manners,  etc.,  etc.  Mr.  Lincoln  would  doubly 
explain  things  to  me  that  needed  no  explanation.  However,  I  stood 
and  took  it  out  of  respect  for  the  man ;  he  was  terribly  afraid  that  I 

i  Herndon  must  have  meant  ninety. 


LET TEES     FEOM     H  E  E  N  D  O  N  133 

did  not  understand  him  when  I  understood  even  his  thoughts  at  it. 
Lincoln  despised  "glittering  generalities'*  and  even  hated  the  man 
that  used  them.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  very  patient  man  generally,  but 
if  you  wished  to  be  cut  off  at  the  knee,  just  go  at  Lincoln  with  ab- 
stractions, glittering  generalities,  indefiniteness,  mistiness  of  idea  or 
expression.  Here  he  flew  up  and  became  vexed  and  sometimes  foolishly 
so ;  his  mind  was  so  organized  that  he  could  not  help  it,  and  so  we 
must  excuse  him.  Lincoln's  ambition  in  this  line  was  this :  he  wanted 
to  be  distinctly  understood  by  the  common  people ;  he  used  to  say  to 
me:  "Billy,  don't  shoot  too  high,  shoot  low  down,  and  the  common 
people  will  understand  you ;  they  are  the  ones  which  you  wish  to  watch, 
at  least  they  are  the  ones  whom  you  ought  to  reach.  The  educated 
ones  will  understand  you  anyhow.  If  you  shoot  too  high,  your  bullets 
will  go  over  the  heads  of  the  mass,  and  only  hit  those  who  need  no 
hitting.'5  This  Lincoln  has  said  to  me  many  times  when  I  was  on  the 
stump  or  at  the  bar,  or  writing  leaders  for  our  newspapers,  which  I 
did  from  1854  to  1861,  advocating  Liberty  and  Lincoln. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield,  IU.9  January  11,  1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

You  wish  to  know  more  about  Lincoln's  domestic  life.  The  history 
of  it  is  a  sad,  sad  one,  I  assure  you.  Many  and  many  a  time  I  have 
known  Lincoln  to  come  down  to  our  office,  say  at  7  a.m.,  sometimes 
bringing  with  him  his  then  young  son  Bob.  Our  office  was  on  the  west 
side  of  the  public  square  and  upstairs.  The  door  that  entered  our 
office  was,  the  up  half,  of  glass,  with  a  curtain  on  the  inside  made  of 
calico.  When  we  did  not  wish  anyone  to  see  inside,  we  let  down  the 
curtain  on  the  inside.  Well,  I  say,  many  and  many  a  time  have  I  known 
Lincoln  to  come  down  to  our  office,  sometimes  Bob  with  him,  with  a 
small  lot  of  cheese,  crackers,  and  "bologna"  sausages  under  his  arm; 
he  would  not  speak  to  me,  for  he  was  full  of  sadness,  melancholy,  and 
I  suppose  of  the  devil ;  he  would  draw  out  the  sofa,  sit  down  on  it, 
open  his  breakfast,  and  divide  between  Bob  and  himself.  I  would  as  a 
matter  of  course  know  that  Lincoln  was  driven  from  home,  by  a  club, 
knife,  or  tongue,  and  so  I  would  let  down  the  curtain  on  the  inside,  go 


134  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

out,  and  lock  the  door  behind  me,  taking  the  key  out  and  with  me.  I 
would  stay  away,  say  an  hour,  and  then  I  would  go  into  the  office 
on  one  pretense  or  another,  and  if  Lincoln  did  not  then  speak,  I  did 
as  before,  go  away,  etc.  In  the  course  of  another  hour  I  would  go  back, 
and  if  Lincoln  spoke,  I  knew  it  was  all  over,  i.e.,  his  fit  of  sadness,  etc. 
Probably  he  would  say  something  or  I  would,  and  then  he  would  say: 
"Billy,  that  puts  me  in  mind  of  a  story,"  he  would  tell  it,  walk  up  and 
down  the  room,  laughing  the  while,  and  now  the  dark  clouds  would 
pass  off  his  withered  and  wrinkled  face  and  the  God-blessed  sunshine 
of  happiness  would  light  up  those  organs  o'er  which  the  emotions  of 
that  good  soul  played  their  gentle  dance  and  chase.  Friend,  I  can  see 
all  this  now  acting  before  me  and  am  sad. 

Your  good  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  January  15,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

There  was  a  curious  streak  in  Lincoln  and  it  was  that  of  a  seeming 
ingratitude.  Lincoln  came  to  this  city  in  1837,  and  Joshua  F.  Speed 
gratuitously  took  him  into  his  room,  gave  him  bed  and  house  room, 
etc.  William  Butler  was  a  man  of  some  wealth  for  the  time,  was  suc- 
cessful in  business,  was  making  money,  etc. ;  he  took  Lincoln  to  his 
house,  gave  him  a  bed,  sleeping  room,  and  boarded  him  from  1837  to 
1842,  when  Lincoln  got  married  to  Miss  Todd,  tJie  "female  wildcat  of 
the  age.  Butler  was  a  Whig  and  so  was  Lincoln.  Butler  did  not  charge 
Lincoln  one  cent  for  the  board  for  years,  lodging,  etc.,  etc.  Butler 
saw  in  Lincoln  a  gloom,  a  sadness,  melancholy,  etc.,  and  deeply  sympa- 
thized with  him,  wanted  to  help  him.  Lincoln  is  painted  by  men  who 
do  not  know  him  as  having  a  hard  time  of  it  in  his  struggles  for 
existence,  success,  fame.  This  is  all  bosh,  nonsense.  No  man  ever  had 
an  easier  time  of  it  in  his  early  days,  in  his  boyish,  in  his  young> 
struggles  than  Lincoln ;  he  had  always  had  influential  and  financial 
friends  to  help  him ;  they  almost  fought  each  other  for  the  privilege 
of  assisting  Lincoln ;  he  was  most  certainly  entitled  to  this  respect. 
I  have  watched  men  and  women  closely  in  this  matter.  Lincoln  was  a 
pet,  a  faithful  and  an  honest  pet  in  this  city ;  he  deserved  it.  Lincoln 
was  a  poor  man  and  must  work  his  way  up ;  he  was  ambitious,  fired  by 


LETTEBS  FEOM  HEENBON  135 

it ;  it  eclipsed  his  better  nature,  and  when  he  used  a  man  and  sucked 
all  the  uses  out  of  him,  he  would  throw  away  the  thing  as  an  old  orange 
peeling.  This  was  not  always  the  case,  probably  not  Lincoln's  general 
rule.  Lincoln  was  elected  to  Congress  in  1847,  I  think ;  he  had  some 
patronage  to  bestow  and  his  old  friend  Butler  applied  to  him  for  the 
office  of  the  Register  or  receiver  of  public  monies  in  this  city.  There 
was  another  applicant  for  the  same  office  by  the  name  of  King,  a  kind 
of  worthless  man,  in  my  opinion,  and  Lincoln  gave  the  office  to  King 
over  the  head  of  Butler.  Butler  and  Lincoln  did  not  speak  for  years. 
Butler  opposed  Lincoln  in  all  his  aspirations  for  office  from  1847  till 
about  1858.  Butler  frequently  with  others  defeated  Lincoln's  schemes. 
Lincoln  thought  it  best  for  himself  to  bury  the  hatchet,  as  I  suppose. 
Lincoln  was  again,  say  in  1862-63  approached  by  Butler  for  an 
office,  and  Lincoln  did  give  it  to  him,  and  out  of  which  he  made  a 
fortune.  Such  are  the  tricks  and  ways  of  politicians  in  this  world.  .  .  . 
I  saw  Judge  Matheny  this  morning  and  asked  him  his  remembrance  of 
the  facts,  and  he  remembers  it  substantially  as  I  do,  and  as  stated 
herein.  History,  if  it  is  worth  writing,  is  worthy  of  true  writing  and  so 
I  give  you  this  note.  I  hope  that  you  may  never  be  a  politician,  pray  so. 

You  may  think  that  because  I  cut  men,  state  the  truth  of  them, 
that  I  am  a  soured  disappointed  man,  and  in  thus  thinking  you  are 
mistaken.  I  never  was  ambitious  along  the  lines  of  politics,  and  on  this 
line  even  I  have  been  successful.  My  ambition  was  not  for  office,  nor 
money,  nor  fame.  My  ambition  in  this  lif e  was  to  be  an  intelligent  man, 
and  a  doer  of  good  to  my  fellow-man.  Today  I  am  a  progressive  and 
an  advanced  little  thinker,  a  reformer,  an  optimist,  an  altruist,  be- 
lieving in  an  infinite  Energy,  Universal  Soul,  God,  in  universal  in- 
spiration, revelation — sons  of  God.  I  am  credulous  to  this  extent,  am 
broad  and  generous  in  my  views.  This  infinite  energy  has  no  pets, 
rules  mind  and  matter  by  laws,  absolute,  universal,  and  eternal.  Now 
you  have  my  philosophy  and  religion.*!  am  today  under  my  beliefs  a 
contented  and  a  happy  man,  and  always  have  been  and  expect,  hope, 
to  remain  so. 

It  seems  to  me  that  I  have  written  to  you  enough  matters  to  make 
a  respectable  Life  of  Lincoln.  I  feel  that  I  am  about  pumped  dry. 
However,  I  shall  continue  to  send  you  well-authenticated  facts  and 
only  such.  Had  you  not  better  change  your  plans  and  issue  a  little 
Life  of  Lincoln  yourself?  Answer  this  last  idea.  We  have  had  a 


136  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

terribly  cold  snap;  weather  lias  changed  and  it  is  now  snowing. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Spring-field,  III.,  January  16, 1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

Your  kind  letter,  dated  the  12th  inst.,  is  just  handed  to  me,  and 
in  reply  to  past  would  say  that  I  never  told  you  that  Mrs.  Lincoln 
wanted  to  marry  Douglas.  I  did  say  to  you  that  Douglas  wanted  to 
marry  Mrs.  Lincoln  when  a  girl.  Mrs.  Lincoln,  when  a  girl,  was 
courted  by  Douglas  and  Lincoln  at  the  same  time.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was 
a  keen  observer  of  human  nature,  an  excellent  j udge  of  it,  none  better; 
she  was  a  terrible  woman,  but  I  must  give  her  credit  for  a  keen  insight 
into  men  and  things.  Had  Jiell  not  got  into  her  neck  she  would  have 
led  society  anywhere ;  she  was  a  highly  cultured  woman,  witty,  dash- 
ing, pleasant,  and  a  lady,  but  hell  got  in  her  neck,  which  I  will  explain 
to  the  world  sometime,  if  I  live.  This  will  be  a  curious  history.  When 
all  is  known,  the  world  will  divide  between  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln its  censure,  as  I  believe.  Mrs.  Lincoln  saw  in  Mr.  Lincoln  honesty, 
sincerity,  integrity,  manliness,  and  a  great  man  in  the  future.  Mrs. 
Lincoln  saw  in  Douglas  a  rake  and  a  roue  by  nature,  a  demagogue  and 
a  shallow  man.  This  I  know.  Probably  I  know  too  much  of  all  these 
things.  Mrs.  Lincoln  chose  Lincoln,  and  the  choice  showed  her  insight 
and  her  wisdom.  I  know  the  whole  story  from  beginning  to  end.  I  know 
that  Mrs.  Lincoln  acted  badly,  but  hold  your  opinion  for  a  while.  I 
have  always  sympathized  with  Mrs.  Lincoln.  Remember  that  every 
effect  must  have  its  cause.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  not  a  she-wolf,  wildcat, 
without  a  cause. 

I  am  glad  that  you  save  and  have  saved  all  things  written  to  you 
by  me.  I  want  them  saved,  because  they  will  have  much  in  them  proba- 
bly that  the  world  will  want.  I  am  willing  to  be  tested  by  them  during 
all  coming  time,  by  the  severest  criticism.  If  I  misrepresent  willfully, 
the  world  will  know  it ;  and  if  I  am  honestly  mistaken,  the  world  will 
know  that ;  and  if  I  am  true,  they  will  know  that  too.  We  cannot  escape 
criticism  if  we  are  worthy  of  it. 

Your  friend, 

W,  H.  HEBNDON. 


LETTEES    FEOM     HEBNDON  137 

In  a  day  or  so  "will  write  you  more  about  Lincoln's  domestic  re- 
lations. 


January  16, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

Let  me  give  you  an  exact  idea  of  Miss  Todd,  Mrs.  Lincoln  after- 
wards. I  said  to  you  and  now  say  to  you  that,  when  Mrs.  Lincoln  was 
a  young  and  unmarried  woman,  she  was  rather  pleasant,  polite,  civil, 
rather  graceful  in  her  movements,  intelligent,  witty,  and  sometimes 
bitter  too ;  she  was  a  polished  girl,  well  educated,  a  good  linguist,  a 
fine  conversationalist,  was  educated  thoroughly  at  Lexington,  Ken- 
tucky ;  she  was  poor  when  she  came  here  about  1839,  a  little  proud, 
sometimes  haughty.  I  have  met  Miss  Todd  many  times  at  socials, 
balls,  dances,  and  the  like,  have  danced  with  her.  I  think  that  Miss 
Todd  was  a  very  shrewd  girl,  somewhat  attractive;  she  discreetly 
kept  back  the  fundamentals,  the  groundwork  of  her  organization; 
she  was  a  shrewd  girl  and  a  sharp  one,  a  fine  judge  of  human  nature 
and  of  the  appropriateness  of  conditions.  However,  after  she  got 
married  she  became  soured,  got  gross,  became  material,  avaricious, 
insolent.  The  wolf,  I  guess,  was  in  her  when  young  and  unmarried,  but 
she  unchained  it,  let  it  loose,  when  she  got  married.  Discretion  when 
young  kept  the  wolf  back  for  a  while,  but  when  there  was  no  more 
necessity  for  chaining  it,  it  was  unchained  to  growl,  snap,  and  bite 
at  all.  But  remember  that  in  finite  things,  that  every  effect  has  its 
appropriate  cause.  Keep  your  judgment  open  for  subsequent  facts. 

I  intended  to  say  that,  in  the  Butler  note,  Butler  gratuitously, 
freely,  and  without  charge  boarded  Lincoln  from  1837  to  184*2,  when 
Lincoln  got  married.  I  think  that  in  my  hurry  I  forgot  to  state  this 
fact  distinctly.  I  now  say  it.  The  reason  why  Lincoln  appointed,  had 
King  appointed,  was  that  King  lived  in  a  northern  county  in  this 
State.  This  county  Lincoln  wanted  and  King  could  carry  it.  Butler 
lived  in  this  county  and  couldn't  be  of  any  use  north  to  Lincoln.  Hur- 
rah for  politics  and  politicians.  Politics  rob  us  of  our  better  nature 
and  politicians  rob  us  of  our  money,  etc.  Hurrah  for  politics  and 
politicians. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HBBNDON. 


138  THE     HIDDEN     iLINCOLH 

Religiously  private.     H. 

Spring-field,  IlL,  January  19,  1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

You  once  asked  me  for  a  history  of  Lincoln's  paternity  and,  as  I 
remember  it,  I  promised  to  give  it  to  you  sometime,  if  I  had  the  time 
to  do  it.  The  facts  are  about  as  follows :  Lincoln  once  told  me  that 
his  mother  Nancy  Hanks  was  the  illegitimate  child  of  a  Virginia 
planter;  he  told  me  never  to  tell  it  while  he  lived,  and  this  I  have 
religiously  kept  and  observed.  This  is  one  fact  in  the  chain  of  infer- 
ences. Thomas  Lincoln,  the  father  of  Abraham,  in  the  spring  of  1805 
commenced  going  to  see  Sally  Bush ;  he  courted  this  finely  developed 
and  buxom  girl ;  she  refused  him,  did  not  at  all  reciprocate  his  love. 
This  lady,  whom  I  knew,  was  far  above  Thomas  Lincoln,  somewhat 
cultivated  and  quite  a  lady.  Mr.  Lincoln,  Thomas,  then — say  in  the 
summer  of  1806 — ^commenced  going  to  see  Nancy  Hanks,  Abraham's 
mother.  Nancy  Hanks  accepted  Thomas  Lincoln's  hand;  they  were 
actually  married  in  Washington  County,  Kentucky.  The  marriage 
took  place  September  23, 1806,  and  the  first  child  born  to  Mrs,  Lin- 
coln was  on  the  tenth  day  of  February  1807,  a  little  less  than  five 
months  from  the  day  of  the  marriage.  This  is  the  second  fact  which 
you  must  carry  along  in  order  to  draw  correct  inferences.  About 
1815  one  Abraham  Enloe  was  caught  by  Thomas  Lincoln  in  such 
relations  and  under  such  conditions  with  his  wife  that  he  was  con- 
vinced that  his  wife  was  not,  like  Caesar's  wife,  above  suspicion.  Thomas 
Lincoln  jumped  on  and  into  Enloe  for  what  he  had  been  doing,  as 
Lincoln  supposed.  Lincoln  bit  off  Enloe's  nose  in  the  terrible  fight. 
This  is  fact  number  three.  Lincoln,  Thomas,  was  so  annoyed  with  En- 
loe's visits  and  conduct  that  he  was  driven  from  Kentucky ;  he  moved 
from  there,  to  Indiana,  about  1816—17.  While  Mrs.  Lincoln  bred  like 
a  rat  in  Kentucky,  she  had  no  more  children  in  Indiana,  This  is  fact 
number  four.  Mrs.  Lincoln  died  about  1818—19  in  Indiana.  In  about 
one  year  thereafter  Thomas  Lincoln  went  back  to  Kentucky  to  see 
Sally  Bush,  who  had  in  the  meantime — say  in  1807—8 — married  to 

one Johnston.  Johnston  and  Mrs.  Johnston  had  two  children  or 

more.  I  knew  them  both.  Johnston  died  about  the  time  that  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln did — one  died  in  Indiana  and  the  other  in  Kentucky.  Miss  Bush, 
now  Mrs.  Johnston,  was  a  finely  developed  woman  and  so  was  Mrs. 
Lincoln.  The  reputation  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  is  that  she  was  a  bold,  reck- 


I/ETTEES     FROM     HEB-NDON  139 

less,  daredevil  kind  of  a  woman,  stepping  to  the  very  verge  of  pro- 
priety :  she  was  badly  and  roughly  raised,  was  an  excellent  woman  and 
by  nature  an  intellectual  and  sensitive  woman.  Lincoln,  Abraham, 
told  me  that  his  mother  was  an  intellectual  woman,  sensitive  and  some- 
what sad.  I  distinctly  remember  what  Lincoln  told  me  and  the  cause 
of  the  conversation.  Lincoln  said  to  me  on  that  occasion' this :  "All 
that  I  am  or  hope  ever  to  be  I  got  from  my  mother,  God  bless  her** ; 
and  I  guess  all  this — what  Lincoln  told  me — was  the  truth.  Thomas 
Lincoln  went  back  to  see  Mrs.  Johnston,  as  said  before,  and  they  were 
married  in  Elizabethtown,  Kentucky,  about  the  year  1819.  Remem- 
ber that  Mrs.  Johnston  had  children  by  Johnston.  This  is  a  fifth  fact. 
Mrs.  Johnston,  now  Mrs.  Lincoln,  went  to  Indiana  with  Thomas  and 
there  had  no  children  while  in  the  prime  and  glory  of  her  good  life; 
she  was  a  good  woman,  a  kind,  clever,  and  polite  one.  I  knew  her.  Mrs. 
Thomas  Lincoln,  his  second  wife,  now  took  possession  of  things  in 
Indiana,  dressed  up,  taught,  and  kindly  cared  for  Thomas  Lincoln's 
two  children  by  his  first  wife — Abraham  and  Sarah.  Mrs.  Lincoln, 
Thomas's  second  wife,  had  no  more  children  while  in  Indiana,  though 
she  bred,  had  children,  in  Kentucky  by  Johnston.  Here  is  the  sixth 
fact.  The  two  [children]  by  his  first  wife  and  the  two  by  his  last  wife 
— Johnston  the  father — were  raised  up  together  and  actually  loved 
one  another.  In  other  words  Lincoln  had  two  or  three  children  by  his 
first  wife,  and  none  by  his  last.  Mrs.  Johnston  had  two  or  three  children 
by  her  first  husband  and  none  by  Thomas  Lincoln.  The  four  children 
were  raised  up,  vegetated  together. 

In  addition  to  all  the  above  facts,  or  supposed  ones — f or  I  give  no 
opinion — Dennis  Hanks  told  me  that  Thomas  Lincoln,  when  tolerably 
young,  and  before  he  left  Kentucky,  was  castrated.  Abraham  Enloe 
said,  often  said,  that  Abraham  Lincoln  was  his  chUd.  All  these  facts, 
if  facts  they  are,  I  received  from  different  persons,  at  different  times 
and  places.  I  reduced  much  to  writing  at  the  time,  have  letters  on  the 
subject  from  Kentucky  and  some  of  the  facts  I  remember,  i.e.,  I  well 
remember  what  was  told  me,  though  I  did  write  all  down. 

Now  let  me  give  you  something  on  the  other  side.  The  clerk  of  th& 
court  of  Elizabethtown — Winterbottom,  I  think  is  his  name — wrote 
to  Mr.  Lincoln  in  1859-60  something  about  his  mother,  and  Lincoln 
said  in  reply :  "You  are  mistaken  in  my  mother."  I  have  seen  Lincoln's 
letters  to  the  clerk,  whatever  may  be  his  name.  The  clerk  and  I  cor- 


140  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

responded  some  little,  but  I  may  miss  his  name.  Here  is  the  whole 
story  as  it  has  been  told  to  me,  and  I  give  you  no  opinion  of  fact  nor 
inference.  You  must  judge  for  yourself.  It's  a  curious  story,  and 
may  all  be  true. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Please  send  me  an  exact  copy  of  this,  breaking  it  into  paragraphs 
if  you  can. 

H. 

Keep  this  religiously  private.     H. 

Spring-field,  III.,  January  %3, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

...  I  have  read  the  Allen  letter  and  know  all  about  it.  Allen  was 
a  great  blow,  a  suggestor,  a  wild  exaggerates,  and  somewhat  of  a 
1 r.  Mr.  Lincoln  knew  the  man  and  shot  off  his  caricature,  bur- 
lesque of  Allen.  Lincoln,  when  he  wrote  the  letter,  was  in  one  of  his 
best  joking  moods.  Did  you  take  it  as  all  done  in  good  faith?  Allen's 
idiotic  son,  weak-minded  son  rather,  after  his  father's  death  and  not 
knowing  the  facts  as  well  as  the  people  here,  the  old  settlers,  pub- 
lished the  letter,  a  most  foolish  thing.  Had  he  consulted  friends,  his 
father's  old  ones,  it,  the  letter,  would  never  have  seen  the  light. 

I  wish  to  state  some  facts  about  Lincoln's  domestic  relations  which 
I  do  not  want  to  be  forgotten.  About  the  year  1857  a  man  by  the 
name  of  Barrett  was  passing  along  Eighth  Street  near  Lincoln's 
house ;  he  saw  a  long,  tall  man  running  and  saw  a  little  low,  squatty 
woman  with  a  butcher  knife  in  her  hand  in  hot  pursuit ;  he  looked  and 
saw  that  Lincoln  was  the  man  and  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  the  woman. 
Lincoln's  house  on  Eighth  Street  fronts  westward.  He  ran  eastward 
down  the  walk  in  his  own  lot.  Stephen  Whitehurst  lived  in  the  same 
block.  His  house  fronted  east,  the  house  being  east  of  Lincoln's.  The 
consequence  is  that  the  back  doors  looked  into  each  other.  White- 
hurst  was  on  that  day — Sunday  if  I  recollect  the  time,  the  day- 
standing  in  the  back  door  of  his  own  house  and  saw  what  happened. 
Lincoln  ran  down  the  walk  in  his  own  lot  but,  seeing  the  people  com- 
ing from  church  or  going  to  it,  he  stopped  short  and  quick  and 
wheeled  around,  caught  Mrs.  Lincoln  by  the  back  of  the  neck  and  at 
the  seat  of  her  drawers,  carried  or  pushed  her  squealing  along  the 


LETTERS     FEOM     HEENDON 

walk  back  to  the  house — Lincoln's  house — got  her  to  the  door  of  the 
kitchen,  opened  it,  pushed  her  in,  at  the  same  time,  to  use  Whitehurst's 
expression,  gave  her  a  hell  of  a  slap  on  her  seat,  saying  to  her :  "There 

now,  stay  in  the  house  and  don't  be  a  d d  fool  before  the  people." 

Again  in  the  winter  of  1857  the  Supreme  Court  was  in  session  and 
Lincoln  had  an  important  suit  to  argue.  He  came  in  the  clerk's  office, 
the  law  library  room  too ;  his  nose  was  plastered  up,  fixed  up  with 
court  plaster.  Now  for  the  facts.  Lincoln  had  on  the  day  before 
become  somewhat  abstracted,  thoughtful,  and  let  the  fire  in  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Lincoln's  sitting  room  nearly  die  out.  Mrs.  Lincoln  came  to  the 
door  of  the  sitting  room  from  the  kitchen  and  said:  "Mr.  Lincoln, 
put  some  wood  on  the  fire."  Lincoln  did  not  hear  her  and  neglected 
the  repair  of  the  fire.  Mrs.  Lincoln  came  to  the  sitting  room  again  and 
said:  "Mr.  Lincoln,  mend  up  the  fire,"  it  having  got  low  down.  Lin- 
coln did  not  hear  Mrs.  Lincoln ;  she  came  in  again  and  picked  up  a 
stick  of  wood  and  said :  "Mr.  Lincoln,  I  have  told  you  now  there  three 
times  to  mend  the  fire  and  you  have  pretended  that  you  did  not  hear 
me.  I'll  make  you  hear  me  this  time,"  and  she  blazed  away  at  Lincoln 
with  a  stick  of  stovewood  and  hit  him  on  the  nose  and  thus  banged  it 
up.  Someone  in  the  courtroom  asked  Lincoln  what  was  the  matter; 
he  made  an  evasive  reply  in  part  to  the  question.  Lincoln's  girl  stated 
this,  if  others  did  not  know  it.  From  what  I  know  of  the  facts,  it  is 
more  probable  that  it  is  true  than  untrue.  I  believe  it ;  it  went  around 
among  the  members  of  the  bar  as  true.  Many  such  quarrels  did  take 
place  between  Lincoln  and  his  wife.  Lincoln's  domestic  life  was  a  home 
hell  on  this  globe. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield,  III.,  February  18, 1886. 
Friend  Fowler:1 

It  may  help  you  to  understand  Lincoln  somewhat  thoroughly  by 
stating  to  you  his  philosophy.  Mr.  Lincoln  believed  that  what  was 
to  be  would  be,  and  no  prayers  of  ours  could  arrest  or  reverse  the 
decree ;  he  was  a  thorough  fatalist,  and  thought  the  fates  ruled  the 
world;  he  believed  that  the  conditions  made  the  man,  does  make  the 

x  Probably  the  Senator  Fowler  referred  to  in  Herndon's  letter  of  October  5, 


142  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

man;  he  believed  that  general,  universal,  and  eternal  laws  governed 
both  matter  and  mind,  always  and  everywhere. 

This  philosophy  as  a  whole  will  account  for  much  of  the  facts  and 
laws  of  his  splendid  life.  Things  that  were  to  be,  would  be,  and  hence 
he  patiently  waited  on  events;  his  charity  for  men,  their  feelings, 
thoughts,  willings,  and  acts  sprang  out  of  his  philosophy,  that  condi- 
tions made  them ;  his  want  of  malice  sprang  out  of  the  same.  Lincoln 
neither  hated  nor  did  he  love ;  he  never  but  once  or  twice  eulogized 
men,  nor  did  he  ever  curse  them.  Men  were  mere  tools  in  the  hands  of 
fate,  were  made  as  they  are  made,  by  conditions ;  and  to  praise  or 
blame  men  was  pure  folly.  Men  were  not  entitled  to  credit  for  what 
they  were  or  did,  what  they  thought  or  said,  how  they  felt  or  acted. 
The  thing  was  to  be,  and  no  prayers  of  ours  could  arrest  or  avert  the 
decree;  men  are  made  by  conditions  that  surround  them,  that  have 
somewhat  existed  for  a  hundred  thousand  years  or  more. 

Man  is  compelled  to  feel,  think,  will,  and  act  by  virtue  and  force  of 
these  conditions ;  he  is  a  mere  child  moved  and  governed  by  this  vast 
world  machine,  forever  working  in  grooves,  and  moving  in  deep-cut 
channels ;  and  now  what  is  man  ?  He  is  simply  a  simple  tool,  a  cog,  a 
part  and  parcel  of  this  vast  iron  machine  that  strikes  and  cuts,  grinds 
and  mashes,  all  things  that  resist  it.  The  fates  had  decreed  it  and 
what  they  decreed  is  irresistible  and  inevitable.  Here  human  prayers 
are  blank  absurdities.  What  a  man  is,  he  is  because  of  the  great 
world's  eternal  conditions,  and  is  entitled  to  no  credit  for  virtue  nor 
should  he  be  blamed  for  vice.  "With  malice  toward  none  and  charity 
for  all" — I  live  for  men — was  Lincoln's  feelings,  thoughts,  wills,  and 
acts.  Man  does  but  what  is  commanded  by  his  superiors. 

Lincoln  used  to  quote  Shakespeare's  philosophy : 

There's  a  divinity  that  shapes  our  ends, 
Rough-hew  them  how  we  will. 

If  a  man  did  him  an  injury,  or  grievous  wrong,  the  man  was  a 
mere  tool  and  obeyed  the  powers  ;  and  if  the  man  did  him  a  great  good, 
blessed  him  and  made  him  happy,  still  he  but  obeyed  orders,  and  he 
was  not  to  be  censured  for  the  wrong  nor  praised  for  the  right.  Every- 
thing, everywhere,  is  doomed  for  all  time.  If  a  man  was  good  or  bad, 
small  or  great,  and  if  virtue  or  vice  prevailed,  it  was  so  doomed.  If 
bloody  war,  deathly  famine,  and  cruel  pestilence  stalked  over  the 


LETTERS     FEOM     HEKKDON  143 

land,  it  was  to  be  and  had  come,  and  to  mourn  for  this,  to  regret  it, 
to  resist  it,  would  only  be  flying  in  the  face  of  the  inevitable. 

Lincoln  was  patient  and  calmly  waited  on  events ;  he  knew  that  they 
would  come  in  their  own  good  and  appointed  time;  he  was  not  sur- 
prised at  their  coming  nor  astonished  at  their  extent,  nor  depth,  nor 
fury.  The  fates  and  the  conditions  were  the  powers.  Laws  ruled  every- 
thing, everywhere,  both  matter  and  mind  from  the  beginning  to  the 
end,  if  there  was  a  beginning  and  an  end. 

Such  was  Lincoln's  philosophy;  he  was  in  religion  a  Liberal — 
naturally  and  logically  so.  Do  not  misunderstand  me — probably 
Lincoln  did  not  believe  that  Brutus  was  specially  made  and  ordered 
to  kill  Caesar  with  a  dagger  in  the  Senate  Chamber ;  and  yet  he  fully 
believed  that  Brutus  and  Caesar  stood  in  the  line  of  the  rush  of  the 
forces  of  nature  let  loose  millions  of  years  ago  and  let  go  at  full  play. 

I  hope  that  these  remarks  will  assist  you  in  finding  Lincoln,  the  real 
man  as  he  lived  among  us. 

You  spoke  in  your  eloquent  letter  of  Emerson  and  Lincoln;  they 
differed  widely.  Emerson  had  the  genius  of  the  spiritual  and  ideal; 
Lincoln  had  the  genius  of  the  real  and  the  practical.  Emerson  lived  high 
among  the  stars ;  Lincoln  lived  low  among  men.  Emerson  dreamed ; 
Lincoln  acted.  Emerson  was  intuitional ;  Lincoln  reflective.  Both  were 
Liberals  in  religion  and  were  great  men. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNBQN. 


Springfield,  III.,  April  14, 1886. 
Mr.  James  W.  Keys. 
My  dear  Sir : 

You  ask  me  for  a  short  account  of  my  acquaintance  with  Abraham 
Lincoln.  I  became  acquainted  with  Mr.  Lincoln  in  1834,  and  from 
that  time  to  the  day  of  his  death,  I  knew  the  man  well — I  may  say, 
intimately.  He  moved  to  the  city  of  Springfield  in  183T ;  it  was  then 
but  a  small  town  or  village — now  quite  a  city.  I  studied  law  with  Logan 
and  Lincoln,  two  great  lawyers — in  1842—43.  In  1843  Mr.  Lincoln 
and  I  became  partners  in  the  law  business  in  Springfield,  but  did  busi- 
ness in  all  the  surrounding  counties.  Our  partnership  was  never  legally 
dissolved  till  the  night  of  his  assassination — his  death.  The  good  man, 


14<4<  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

the  noble  man  would  take  no  money  of  my  fees  made  in  the  law  business 
after  his  election  to  the  Presidency.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  safe  counselor, 
a  good  lawyer,  and  an  honest  man  in  all  the  walks  of  life.  Mr.  Lincoln 
was  not  appreciated  in  this  city,  nor  was  he  at  all  times  the  most  popu- 
lar man  among  us.  The  cause  of  his  unpopularity,  rather  the  want  of 
popularity,  here  arose  out  of  two  grounds.  First,  he  did  his  own  think- 
ing, and,  second,  he  had  the  courage  of  his  convictions  and  boldly  and 
fearlessly  expressed  them.  I  speak  generally,  and  especially  of  his 
political  life.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  cool,  cautious,  conservative,  and  long- 
headed man.  Mr.  Lincoln  could  be  trusted  by  the  people;  they  did 
trust  him,  and  they  were  never  deceived.  He  was  a  pure  man,  a  great 
man  and  a  patriot. 

In  the  practice  of  the  law,  he  was  simple,  honest,  fair  and  broad- 
minded  ;  he  was  courteous  to  the  bar  and  to  the  Court ;  he  was  open, 
candid,  and  square  in  his  profession,  never  practicing  on  the  sharp  nor 
the  low.  Mr.  Lincoln  met  all  questions  fairly,  squarely,  and  openly, 
making  no  concealments  of  his  ideas,  nor  intentions,  in  any  case ;  he 
took  no  snap  judgments,  nor  used  any  tricks  in  his  business.  Every 
man  knew  exactly  where  Mr.  Lincoln  stood,  and  how  he  would  act  in 
a  law  case.  Mr.  Lincoln  never  deceived  his  brother  lawyers  in  any 
case.  What  he  told  you  was  the  exact  truth.  .  .  . 

The  desk  made  of  walnut  with  four  shelves  in  it,  with  two  leaved 
doors  belonged  to  Lincoln  and  myself  in  our  early  practice.  The  desk 
contained  most  of  our  books  for  years.  The  table  is  made  of  walnut 
with  two  drawers ;  the  desk  and  table  were  placed  in  our  office  on  the 
same  day,  say  as  early  as  1850,  probably  before.  You  now  own  the 
desk  and  table  that  Lincoln  once  owned ;  he  gave  me  the  desk  and  table, 
and  what  you  have  is  genuine  and  true.  They  have  never  been  out  of 
my  sight  since  they  were  delivered  to  Lincoln  and  myself.  Please  take 
good  care  of  the  sacred  things,  mementos  of  the  noble  man  Abraham 
Lincoln. 

Most  respectfully, 
WM.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  El.,  July  10, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

...  In  answer  to  your  question,  let  me  say  that  Mr*  Lincoln  was 


LETTERS     FROM     HEENPON  145 

not  at  Chicago,  nor  nearer  there  than  this  city,  during  the  week,  time, 
of  his  nomination  for  the  Presidency  in  1860.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  in  this 
city  during  the  convention,  all  the  time  of  it,  playing  ball  and  drink- 
ing beer  with  the  boys.  He  was  nervous  that  day  and  played  ball  and 
drank  beer  to  while  away  the  time ;  he  hoped  and  despaired  that  day 
in  this  city.  I  was  in  Chicago  during  the  time  of  the  convention,  but 
Lincoln  was  not  there ;  he  was  here  and  had  not  been  in  Chicago  for 
months,  probably,  before  the  convention. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H,  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  HI.,  October  9,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

...  I  have  received  no  reply  from  the  publishing  company  as  yet 
in  answer  to  mine,  my  last.  When  I  get  an  answer,  I  will  send  it  to  you. 
You  and  I  can  write  the  biography  wanted.  My  letters  to  you  are 
half  of  the  biography,  ready-made  to  hand.  I  have  probably  all  the 
original  papers,  the  important  ones  out  of  which  Lamon  wrote  his 
Life  of  Lincoln ;  he  never  had  the  originals.  I  only  sold  him  copies 
of  the  originals.  I  kept  the  originals  and  have  them  at  my  house  in 
the  country.  Some  few  things  may  be  lost. 

I  referred  to  you  as  my  literary  friend,  because  the  publishing 
company  asked  for  the  name ;  and  I  thought  it  due  to  you  to  say  so. 
I  explained  to  them  that  you  were  just  entering  the  literary  field  in 
my  last.  It's  all  right.  You  need  not  fear  that  the  publishing  company 
will  dispense  with  your  services.  I'll  see  to  that,  my  friend. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Chicago*  December  1,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  have  sent  you  some  cards  and  pamphlets  explaining  the  purposes 
and  scope  of  the  Lincoln  Memorial  Collection  owned  by  Messrs.  Keys 
and  Munson  of  this  city,  and  if  anything  more  comes  out,  I'll  send  to 
you.  I  am  here  to  assist  them  in  starting  their  valuable  collection  of 
Lincoln  relics  to  the  public  view.  I  am  not  here  expressly  to  lecture. 
However,  I  do  not  know  what  will  happen  in  this  world  of  rusMog 


146  THE     HIDDEN 

events.  I  am  pushing  the  collection  along  as  well  as  I  can,  do  not  know 
when  I  shall  go  home,  am  as  fat,  hearty,  and  jolly  as  a  pig ;  I  am  not 
run  and  kicked  to  death,  have  a  little  time  to  laugh  and  be  merry. 

The  word  "Sarah,"  I  think,  refers  to  Mrs.  Edwards  as  I  now 
recollect  it.  When  I  see  you  [I  shall]  refresh  my  memory  by  looking 
at  the  papers.  When  an  opportunity  presents  itself  and  at  the  proper 
time,  I  may  say  something  to  the  leading  men  and  houses  here  about 
our  intentions  of  writing,  etc.  Let  us  push  things  along  somewhat 
before  we  talk  to  publishers.  I  am  glad  that  you  are  pulling  the  wires 
in  Boston  and  New  York.  I  have  a  friend  in, New  York  who  will  help 
us,  if  you  give  me  the  privilege,  give  your  consent  that  I  should  write 
him  on  the  subject.  Give  me  by  letter  the  substance  of  what  you  want 
said  and  I'll  write  to  him;  his  name  is  C.  O,  Poole,  who  has  written  to 
me  three  or  four  times  on  this  very  subject,  but  I  would  evade  the 
question,  skip  over  suggestions. 

I  am  not  surprised  at  all  that  Nicolay  and  Hay  will  be  attacked 
for  willful  suppression  of  facts ;  they  know  all  about  Lincoln's  ances- 
try, Nancy  Hanks,  Enloe,  Lincoln's  paternity,  etc.,  etc.,  just  as  fully 
as  I  do  or  you  do.  Mr.  A,  W.  Drake,  the  artist  of  the  Century, 
intimated  to  Messrs.  Keys  and  Munson  as  much,  in  fact  told  them  the 
whole  story  as  they  told  it  to  me  long,  long  before  I  ever  intimated 
such  a  thing  to  them.  The  thing  comes  straight  to  me,  no  earthly 
doubt.  Nicolay  and  Hay  tell  the  truth,  as  I  now  remember  it,  as  far 
as  they  go,  but  skip  the  point,  suppress  facts.  Write  me  often  as  I 
am  lonesome  and  love  to  read  your  letters. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 


Chicago,  December  5,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

On  yesterday  I  finished  reading  the  December  number  of  the  Cen- 
tury and  am  astonished  at  the  length  and  dullness  of  Nicolay  and 
Hay's  second  article.  If  that  article  is  a  sample  of  what  is  to  come, 
I  make  a  prediction  that  the  whole  thing  will  fall  stillborn,  dead ;  it 
is  too  long  a  piece  to  say  nothing  in,  too  much  little  unimportant 
stuff  in  it  for  the  length  of  it.  If  what  has  been  said  in  the  two  articles 
were  condensed  into  a  short  chapter,  then  it  would  do.  Are  Nicolay 


LETTERS  FBOM  HEBNDON  147 

and  Hay  going  to  suppress  the  story  of  Ann  Rutledge,  the  finest 
story  in  Lincoln's  life?  What  do  you  think  of  the  two  articles?  What 
does  the  world  say?  What  do  the  critics  say?  I  want  to  make  you  a 
bet;  I  will  bet  you  a  chicken  cock  that  Nicolay  and  Hay's  book  will 
tire  out  the  public  by  its  length  and  its  unimportant  trash.  You  mark 
what  I  say  unless  a  change  is  made  by  N.  and  H. 

I  am  glad  that  you  are  in  earnest  about  our  book,  hope  you  will 
keep  so.  By  the  way,  if  your  literary  friend  wants  to  see  our  papers 
in  order  to  write  something  about  Lincoln,  Nicolay,  and  Hay,  give 
him  access  to  the  memoranda  if  you  see  proper.  Do  so  to  any  good 
friend  if  you  wish.  My  private  letters  are  private  and  no  one  is  to  see 
them  except  yourself.  I  mean  mostly  those  letters  written  to  me  by 
others.  Act  in  all  cases  according  to  your  best  judgments  and  I'll 
sanction. 

I  hope  that  you  will  think  better  of  my  arrangement  with  Keys 
and  Munson.  I  did  for  the  best.  My  word  is  out  to  them  and  I  can  but 
perform.  Good  will  come  out  of  it.  ... 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDOK. 


Chicago,  December  8, 1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

...  I  shall  write  to  C.  F.  Black,  the  real  author  of  Lamon's  Life 
of  Lincoln*  and  get  him  to  help  us  to  launch  our  book  upon  the  public 
sea ;  he  knows  the  ropes  or  ought  to ;  he  is  a  man  of  influence,  Lieuten- 
ant Governor  of  Pennsylvania,  and  can  help  us.  Keep  your  eyes  open 
as  to  Mrs.  Garrison's  propositions.  It  seems  that  she  wants  us  to 
secure  her  a  fee  as  soon  as  she  gets  a  publisher  for  the  book.  Can't 
she  wait  till  it  is  published?  The  name  which  you  propose  to  give  the 
book  is  very  good  and  I  approve  of  it.  ,  .  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEUNDON. 

Chicago,  December  9, 1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  am  here  and  somewhat  lonesome  and  I  will  have  to  talk  to  you,, 
make  a  companion  of  you.  You  were  quoted  Judge  Davis  on  me  to 


148  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

the  effect  that  Lincoln  was  a  great  lawyer.  That  I  never  denied,  but 
I  said  that  he  was  not  a  first-rate  nisi  prius  lawyer.  I  further  said  that 
he  was  not  a  learned  lawyer,  and  that  he  was  a  case  lawyer,  etc.  Just 
hear  what  Judge  Davis  does  say :  he  says  of  Lincoln :  "He  could  hardly 
be  called  very  learned  in  his  profession,  and  yet  he  rarely  tried  a 
cause  without  fully  understanding  the  law  applicable  to  it."  This  I 
agree  to  and  now  the  question:  Come,  how  was  he  a  great  lawyer? 
Says  Judge  Davis:  "He  read  law  books  but  little,  except  when  the 
cause  in  hand  made  it  necessary."  The  next  question  comes:  What 
books  did  he  resort  to  to  get  his  information?  He  went  to  the  reports 
and  hunted  up  like  cases ;  he  was  a  case  lawyer  and  that  only ;  he 
never  as  a  general  rule  went  to  the  textbooks,  and  he  was  ever  ready 
to  attend  in  a  masterly  way  all  cases  that  came  before  him,  right  or 
wrong,  good  or  bad,  ready  or  not  ready,  except  ever  ready  through 
his  legal  love  and  his  own  sagacity.  Now  you  have  my  opinion  right 
or  wrong,  wise  or  foolish. 

You  have  never  told  me  how  you  liked  my  Lincoln  records  now  in 
your  possession.  How  do  you  like  'em?  Nor  have  you  ever  said  how 
you  liked  Nicolay  and  Hay's  two  articles  in  the  Century.  The  opinion 
here  is  generally  good,  somewhat  mixed  up.  Tell  me  all  about  what 
you  think  of  the  two  pieces,  etc.  Come,  give  me  your  ideas. 

I  shall  write  to  Poole  and  to  Governor  Black  ere  long  and  get  'em  to 
help  us  to  launch  our  little  craft  on  the  great  public  sea. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Chicago,  December  13,  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  received  a  letter  from  Governor  Black,  the  author  of  Lamon's 
Life  of  Lincoln ;  he  says  that  someone  is  writing  severe  criticisms  on 
N.  and  H.'s  life  of  L. ;  he  thinks  it  is  Lamon  who  does  it  but  does  not 
know  it  absolutely.  Black  says  he  will  write  me  soon  and  tell  me  all 
about  it;  his  letter  to  me  is  dated  the  8th  inst.;  he  further  says  that 
Lamon  is  soon  to  publish  his  second  volume  of  the  Life  of  L.  and  will 
reprint  the  first  volume.  Lamon  is  in  Washington  now,  and  I  shall 
write  to  him,  asking  him  to  send  me  his  criticisms  or  others ;  he  will 


LETTEBS  FROM  HEBNDON  149 

send  to  me  quickly  and  I'll  send  to  you  if  I  get  any,  will  tell  you  what 
Black  says. 

Can  you  not  block  out  the  first  and  second  chapters  of  our  Life 
of  L.  before  I  come  to  see  you?  Come,  try  and  do  it,  will  you?  By  the 
way,  have  you  seen  any  criticisms  on  N.  and  H.'s  work?  If  you  have, 
what  are  they  in  substance?  I  am  so  tied  up  here  that  I  have  no  time 
much  to  read  the  papers.  I  have  to  explain  to  visitors  the  nature, 
history,  etc.,  of  the  Lincoln  Memorial  Collection ;  it  keeps  me  blabbing 
all  the  time.  The  thing  is  new  here  and  not  a  great  many  people  visit  it 
as  yet  though  the  promises  are  good.  The  collection  will  be  a  good 
thing  in  the  near  future,  as  I  think.  Lincoln  is  growing  in  the  estima- 
tion of  the  people ;  and  the  older  the  relics  of  him,  the  more  valuable 
the  collection  will  be  and  the  more  eager  to  see  what  Lincoln  saw  and 
had,  felt  and  thought,  dreamed  and  acted.  The  people  are  crazy  for 
autographs.  One  man,  Mr.  Lindman,  paid  $1000  for  the  autograph 
of  Shakespeare.  Lincoln's  autographs  bring  from  $10  to  $20. 1  could 
get  that  for  each  autograph  of  L.  if  I  had  any.  It  is  a  curious  phe- 
nomenon of  our  nature,  this  craving  of  autographs.  A  candy  man 
here,  Mr.  Gunther  told  me,  had  $40,000  worth  of  autographs  in  his 
safes.  I  have  forgotten  the  man's  name;  he  is  the  great  wholesale 
candy  man  of  this  city,  sent  me  a  fine  box  at  Springfield  some  little 
time  since ;  went  to  see  him  and  his  house  since  I  have  been  here ;  he  is 
wild  on  autographs. 

I  think  that  Mrs.  Garrison  needs  watching;  she  seems  to  me  to  be 
avaricious  and  selfish  in  this  extreme;  she  seems  to  understand  the 
ropes  and  herself,  including  the  meanness  and  frauds  of  the  publishing 
business.  Black  could  tell  you  a  story  that  would  shock  you.  We  will 
have  to  keep  both  eyes  and  ears  open  or  we  are  gulped  down,  swallowed 
up  body,  breeches,  and  soul.  How  do  you  feel  about  the  matter?  I  hope 
that  we  shall  succeed  somehow  and  with  someone. 

In  one  of  your  letters  to  me  you  state  that  we  are  to  write  the  Life 
of  L.  honestly,  fairly,  squarely,  telling  the  whole  truth  and  suppress- 
ing nothing,  up  to  1860,  and  there  leaving  him  a  grand  figure  standing 
up  against  the  clear  deep  blue  sky  of  the  future.  This  is  a  good  idea 
and  I  approve  it  in  toto.  Would  it  not  be  a  good  idea  to  have  a  short 
concluding  chapter  on  him,  not  going  into  the  details  of  his  adminis- 
tration, the  war,  the  reconstruction  measures,  etc,,  etc.?  We  would 


150  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

thus  give  a  full  life  of  the  man  and  yet  leaving  him  standing  up 
against  the  deep  blue  of  the  future.  I  am  simply  suggesting,  not  dic- 
tating. Think  of  the  suggestion.  I  am  not  particular  as  to  the  where 
in  L.'s  life  that  we  shall  leave  him  full  to  the  gaze  of  the  people. 
Write  to  me  often  and  tell  me  your  thoughts  and  your  dreams. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 


Chicago,  December  2%,  1886. 
Friend  Weik : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  19th  inst.,  was  duly  received.  I  regret  to  hear 
of  your  good  grandmother's  death.  I  once  had  an  excellent  old  grand- 
mother and  I  know  how  I  felt  the  loss  of  her.  She  was  a  good  old  Vir- 
ginia lady. 

I  hope  that  you  and  Wartman  will  find  new  matters  of  interest  in 
Indiana,  and  I  do  hope  that  you  will  get  the  "Chronicles."  The  man 
who  had  them  while  I  was  in  Spencer  County  would  not  spare  them 
under  any  consideration.  I  had  no  money  with  which  to  coax  him.  As 
to  the  anonymous  letter,  I  never  paid  much  attention  to  it,  because, 
as  I  recollect,  the  fact  is  that  Sarah  Lincoln  was  the  oldest  child  of 
Mrs.  Lincoln,  Nancy  Hanks,  and  hence  Abraham  may  have  been  the 
child  of  Thomas,  upon  the  condition  that  Thomas  was  not  castrated 
and  upon  the  further  condition  that  Enloe  never  had  connection  with 
Nancy  at  any  other  time  thereafter,  I  do  not  like  anonymous  letters 
anyhow.  However,  push  your  investigation  with  vigor,  for  something 
may  come  of  it. 

It  would  be  prudent  and  wise  for  you  to  go  into  New  York,  now 
when  the  book  is  ready.  You  judge  of  the  time  and  other  circum- 
stances. If  I  hear  from  Black  or  anyone  else  touching  our  business, 
let  me  assure  you  that  I'll  write  to  you.  I  am  well  and  hearty  as  a 
pig,  am  contented,  and,  by  the  way,  I  talk  a  good  deal  to  the  people 
about  Lincoln.  Without  knowing  what  you  and  I  are  about,  they  hope 
that  I'll  write  the  life  of  L.  The  people  here  have  confidence  in  what  I 
say ;  they  know  that  I  knew  Lincoln.  It  is  dark  in  the  room  in  which  I'm 
writing  and  hence  excuse  crowdedness  of  lines,  etc.  Enclosed  you  will 
find  a  copy  of  the  Campbell  letter  which  you  wish.  I  shall  write  out 
fully  L.'s  philosophy  and  his  religion  in  short  when  I  get  time ;  have 


SETTEES     FROM     HEENDON  151 

said  enough  about  his  religion,  and  yet  some  general  remarks  must 
be  made  in  his  biography.  What  say  you? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON* 


Chicago,  December  %h  1886. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  have  just  received  a  letter  from  Mr.  Poole  in  which  he  uses  the 
following  words  about  N.  and  H.'s  life  of  Lincoln :  "Yes,  I  have  read 
some  of  Nicolay  and  Hay's  on  Lincoln.  The  environment,  etc.,  etc.,  of 
these  men  at  present  is  very  much  against  them,  showing  Mr.  Lincoln 
as  he  was.  They  are  aiming  to  do,  first,  a  superb  piece  of  literary 
work ;  secondly,  to  make  a  story  popular  with  the  'classes*  as  against 
the  'masses.9  It  will  result  in  delineating  the  real  Lincoln  about  as  well 
as  does  a  wax  figure  in  the  museum." 

There  is  a  good  deal  in  this  criticism,  I  assure  you.  The  suppres- 
sions of  the  truth  by  N.  and  H.  will  injure  them.  I  am  of  the  opinion, 
of  the  growing  opinion,  that  we  will  have  to  state  facts,  leaving  each 
man  and  woman  free  to  draw  their  own  conclusions.  I  wish  to  state  in 
full  Mr.  Lincoln's  philosophy,  objective  and  subjective.  I  wish  to  say 
a  few  words  on  L.'s  religion.  This  is  all.  I  do  not  wish  to  suppress  the 
truth,  nor  to  suggest  a  falsehood  in  the  life  of  Lincoln.  The  whole 
facts  must  come  out  sooner  or  later.  Shall  we  take  the  lead  or  play 
the  coward?  This  is  my  idea,  i.e.,  take  the  lead  and  think  about  it,  if 
you  please,  my  good  friend.  I  do  not  think  that  it  is  necessary  for 
you  to  come  here.  We  can  see  each  other  in  Springfield  or  Greencastle 
when  the  time  comes.  If  you  go  anywhere  this  winter,  go  into  Ken- 
tucky, go  to  Elizabethtown  and  to  Springfield,  Kentucky,  to  Paris, 
and  to  other  places,  and  dig  out  the  facts.  Lincoln,  Thomas,  was 
married,  as  I  remember  it,  in  Washington  County,  Kentucky.  Go 
there  and  scratch  out  the  facts  as  a  dog  digs  out  a  rabbit,  corn,  or 
ground  hog.  I  like  your  pluck  and  energy,  your  industry  and  per- 
sistency. I  will  send  you  all  the  news  about  Lincoln,  N.  and  H. 
cisms,  etc.,  when  and  as  they  come  to  hand. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON* 


152  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Chicago,  January  2, 1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

Have  you  read  the  January  number  of  the  Century?  If  you  have, 
you  will  see  that  N.  and  H.  have  suppressed  many  facts,  material 
facts,  of  Lincoln's  life,  and  among  them  are  L.'s  genealogy,  paternity, 
the  description  of  Nancy  Hanks,  old  Thomas  Lincoln,  the  Ann  Rut- 
ledge  story,  L.'s  religion,  L.'s  insanity,  the  facts  of  L.'s  misery  with 
Mary  Todd,  L.'s  breakdown  on  the  night  that  he  and  Mary  Todd  were 
to  be  married,  etc.,  etc.  I  do  not  say  that  they  did  not  mention  some 
of  these  things  in  a  roundabout  way,  but  I  do  say  that  the  kernel, 
"nib,"  and  point  of  things  have  been  purposely  suppressed.  N.  and  H. 
do  know  the  facts  fully,  as  I  am  informed  on  good  authority.  Mr. 
Drake  told  them  to  Keys  and  Munson  tolerably  plainly.  Do  you  call 
this  history,  do  you  call  it  biography?  No  wonder  that  L.  had  a  con- 
tempt for  all  history  and  biography ;  he  knew  how  it  was  written ;  he 
knew  the  motives  and  conscience  of  the  writers  of  history  and 
biography.  Lincoln  wanted  to  know  the  whole  truth  and  nothing  less. 
This  I  know.  N.  and  H.  write  correctly,  as  far  as  they  go,  or  probably 
dare  go.  The  reading  world  is  not  ready  to  hear  the  whole  truth,  if  it 
is  an  unpleasant  thing ;  they  love  to  be  put  to  sleep  by  pleasant  stories 
or  humbugged  by  falsehood.  Barnum  is  the  beau  ideal  of  the  Ameri- 
can. Nothing  succeeds  like  success,  this  is  what  the  general  American 
worships,  it  and  the  ring-roll  and  glitter  of  the  almighty  dollar. 
Probably  this  idea  moves  N.  and  H.  to  do  what  they  are  doing.  N.  and 
H.  handle  things  with  silken  gloves  and  "a  camel-hair  pencil" ;  they 
do  not  write  with  an  iron  pen.  If  some  sharp  critic  knew  what  you  and 
I  know,  he  would  shiver  the  future  of  N.  and  H.'s  biography  in  a 
minute.  I  say  that  the  boys  write  well  and  tell  the  truth  very  correctly 
as  far  as  they  go.  Who  is  to  blame,  the  people  or  N.  and  H.  ?  I  am  of 
the  growing  opinion  that  we  must  state  facts  while  we  give  no  opinion, 
leaving  all  men  and  women  open  to  form  their  own  opinion  on  the  facts. 
This  I  have  stated  to  you  before,  and  now  I  should  like  to  have  a 
hint  of  your  ideas  and  feelings.  What  say  you?  Come  out  with  them 
in  fun.  I  used  to  tell  Lincoln  in  my  wild  way  in  1858—59—60  this: 
'^Lincoln,  you  must  take  an  advanced  step  if  you  wish  to  be  success- 
ful in  your  hopes  and  your  ambition."  I  thought  that  he  was  too  con- 
servative at  that  time.  He  moved  and  won.  If  you  wish  to  succeed  in 
our  Life  of  L.,  you  must  take  an  advanced  step.  You  must  strike  the 


LETTEKS  FBOM  HEEKDON  153 

world  with  a  grand  surprise.  This  is  just  what  the  world  demands 
and  without  such  a  strike  the  people  will  go  to  sleep  over  your  biogra- 
phy. This  is  my  opinion.  To  tell  the  whole  truth  about  L.  would  be  a 
grand  surprise.  Now  you  have  my  opinion  in  full,  good  or  bad,  wise 
or  foolish.  .  .  » 

Your  friend  in  haste, 
W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Chicago*  January  6, 1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  employed  in  1855  by  a  man  by  the  name  of  Manny 
to  go  to  Cincinnati,  Ohio.,  and  defend  for  him  a  case  before  Justice 
McLean,  a  case  for  an  infringement  of  a  patent  and  wherein  MeCor- 
mick  was  the  plaintiff  and  Manny  was  defendant.  The  case  was  an 
important  one,  and  big  attorneys  were  employed  on  both  sides,  Sew- 
ard,  Stanton,  and  others.  Mr.  Lincoln  went  on  to  Cincinnati  to 
attend  to  the  case.  Probably  Manny  came  out  to  Illinois  and  accom- 
panied Lincoln  to  Ohio.  This  is  only  my  recollection.  Mr.  Lincoln 
landed  in  Cincinnati  on  time.  Manny  accompanied  Lincoln  in  the  morn- 
ing after  Mr.  Lincoln  had  arrived  in  Cincinnati  to  Stanton's  office, 
was  ushered  into  the  anteroom.  Manny  left  Lincoln  for  a  moment  in 
the  anteroom,  went  and  said  a  word  or  two  to  Stanton.  Between  the 
anteroom  and  Stanton's  office  there  was  a  door  with  a  large  glass  in 
it,  so  that  Stanton  could  look  through  and  see  Lincoln.  Stanton  did 
look  through  the  glass  and  did  see  Lincoln,  who  was  rather  illy  clad 
according  to  Stanton's  notions  of  what  great  lawyers  ought  to  wear. 
Manny  was  in  Stanton's  room  and  Stanton  contemptuously  and 

grossly  said  to  Manny :  "Why  did  you  bring  that  d d  long-armed 

ape  here  for?  He  does  not  know  anything  and  can  do  you  no  good." 
Manny  was  surprised.  Lincoln  distinctly  heard  what  Stanton  said; 
he  was  deeply  insulted  and  felt  indignant ;  left  the  room  and  never 
appeared  in  the  case  any  more;  stayed  in  Cincinnati  a  few  days  till 
the  trial  was  over,  as  some  say,  and,  as  others  say,  he  left  Cincinnati 
instantly  in  high  anger.  My  recollection  is  that  he  stayed  in  Cin- 
cinnati till  the  trial  was  over,  though  he  did  not  have  anything  to  say 
in  his  case.  The  lawyers  with  Lincoln  treated  him  badly,  discourte- 
ously, and  meanly  from  the  beginning  to  the  end.  When  Mr.  Lincoln 


154  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

came  back  to  Springfield,  he  looked  sad  and  sour  and  gloomy,  and  I 
never  asked  him  how  his  case  ended,  thought  probably  that  he  had 
lost  his  case  and  felt  badly  over  it. 

Your  friend  in  haste, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 

In  this  case,  too,  Lincoln  sank  his  private  griefs,  wrongs,  etc.,  out 
of  view ;  appointed  Stanton  Secretary  of  War  for  the  public  good. 


Chicago,  January  7,  1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  am  instructed  by  Messrs.  Munson  and  Keys  to  write  to  and  ask 
you  if  you  would  dispose  of  the  old  Bible  record  of  which  you  sent 
me  a  copy,  the  one  that  Dennis  Hanks  tore  out  and  wore  out,  and  that 
Mrs.  Chapman  gave  you.  They  likewise  would  like  to  know  if  you 
would  dispose  of  the  leaf  of  Lincoln's  copy  or  exercise  book  which  I 
gave  you  several  years  since  and  has  some  Lincoln  poetry  on  it.  If 
you  would  dispose  of  these  things  they  would  like  to  know  your  terms. 

The  articles  by  N.  and  H.,  so  far  as  they  go  and  when  they  touch 
Lincoln  at  all,  when  they  got  in  mew  of  him,  are  very  wonderfully 
correct  as  I  recollect  Lincoln's  history.  The  evasions,  suppressions, 
and  dodgings  of  N.  and  H.  show  that  they  are  afraid  to  speak  out 
the  truth.  The  story  of  Ann  Rutledge  is  one  of  Lincoln's  best  episodes, 
best  episodes  in  L.'s  life.  I  guess  you  are  right  in  this,  that  N.  and  H. 
were  praised  too  much,  blew  too  big  a  horn,  tooted  too  loud,  can't  hold 
the  attention  of  the  people  to  the  grand  starting  blast,  fear  this. 
Wait,  and  probably  N.  and  H.  will  put  in  Mrs.  Lincoln's  photo ;  they 
will  do  wrong  to  neglect  it.  Possibly  Mrs.  Lincoln  offended  the  "boys" 
while  in  Washington ;  guess  she  did  and  they  are  revenging  themselves. 
Wait,  probably  they,  N.  and  H.,  will  put  in  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Edwards's 
yet.  I'll  get  all  the  photos  that  I  can,  and  send  or  bring  to  you.  I'll 
see  Mather  and  get  his  story  if  I  can,  hope  that  you'll  get  Mrs.  Vine- 
yard's photo.  Read  up,  outline,  and  let  me  hear  from  you  again  and 
often.  I  have  got  Barrett's  Life  of  Lincoln,  Arnold's,  Lamon's,  Hol- 
land's, and  the  everyday  Life  of  Lincoln  by  Brown ;  will  bring  or  send 
you  any  of  these  which  you  want.  No,  I  have  not  seen  Robert  Lincoln 
and  don't  expect  to,  don't  care  to  do  so.  I  think  that  Robert  hates  me 
because  I  tell  the  truth,  have  told  the  truth  about  his  mother  and  fa- 


LETTERS     FROM     H  E  £  N  3>  O  N  155 

ther.  Bob's  a  Todd,  not  a  Lincoln ;  he's  a  little  man  with  good  inten- 
tions probably. 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

Chicago,  January  8, 1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

Enclosed  you  will  please  find  a  letter  from  Mr.  Lamon  of  Indiana. 
The  story,  as  I  related  it  to  you  once,  is  this :  One  of  the  Grigsby 
boys  married  Lincoln's  sister;  Lincoln  thought  that  the  Grigsbys 
mistreated  her,  and  the  Lincolns  and  the  Grigsbys  fell  out,  one  with 
another,  etc.  The  two  Grigsby  boys  were  subsequently  married  on 
the  same  night  and  probably  to  two  sisters.  Old  man  Grigsby,  for  the 
two  boys,  had  and  held  an  inf  air,  as  was  the  custom  at  that  time,  at  his 
house.  The  neighbors  were  invited  except  Abraham,  and  all  went  along 
as  merry  as  a  Christmas  bell.  Abraham  got  the  ears  of  some  of  his 
chums  who  were  in  the  house  and  at  the  inf  air.  Abraham  was  not  in- 
vited and  so  Tie  felt  huffy  and  insulted.  He  therefore  told  the  boys  in- 
side this :  'TLet's  have  some  fun."  "Well,"  said  the  boys  inside.  It  was 
arranged  between  the  insiders  and  outsiders  that  the  two  married 
couples  should  be  put  to  bed,  but  A's  husband  was  to  be  put  in  B's  bed 
and  C  was  to  be  put  in  D's  bed,  all  changed  around  and  in  the  wrong 
places.  Both  husbands  got  in  the  wrong  bed  by  direction,  made  be- 
tween Abraham  and  the  invited  insiders,  so  it  was  arranged  and  so  it 
was  executed.  The  girls  were  aloft  when  they  and  their  husbands  were 
put  to  bed.  Soon,  however,  a  scream  and  a  rattling  of  boards  aloft 
were  heard  and  all  was  "confusion  worse  confounded."  A  candle  was 
lit  and  things  found  out  and  explained  to  the  satisfaction  of  the 
women  and  the  men.  Probably  the  women  knew  the  voices  of  their 
loved  ones,  and  by  that  means  the  terrible  mistake  was  found  out, 
but  who  caused  it  and  what  for  were  not  found  out  for  some  time.  Here 
is  Abraham  who  was  joyous  and  revenged  that  night,  the  good  saint 
at  one  of  his  jokes.  I  have  forgotten  the  names  of  the  boys,  their  given 
names,  and  likewise  the  girls*  given  and  surnames.  You  will  get  the 
names  when  you  go  to  Indiana.  The  story  was  told  to  me  by  one  of 
the  Grigsbys.  Root  out  the  story.  It's  true.  Can  you  read  this? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNBON. 

Think  the  name  of  the  boys  was  Charles  and  Reuben  Grigsby. 


156  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

Chicago,  January  14>  1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

Enclosed  you  will  find  Badeau  on  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  Garrison  on  the 
Sanie.  I  sent  you  your  Indianapolis  paper,  but  for  fear  it  would  not 
-reach  you,  I  send  the  slip.  You  may  not  have  seen  Garrison's  estimate 
of  L.,  and  therefore  I  send  it.  Garrison  stayed  with  me  about  eight 
•days  some  years  since ;  he  was  a  perfect  gentleman  and  a  very  social 
Bian.  My  wife  loved  the  man ;  she  was  once  a  pro-slavery  girl,  but 
I  took  that  out  of  her  by  fair  argument  and  reason  pretty  quick  after 
marriage;  she  is  now  a  rabid  Liberty  woman  in  every  direction.  I 
shall  start  for  home  tomorrow  evening,  nothing  preventing,  and  will 
send  you  those  books  according  to  your  wish  and  see  the  people  you 
told  me  to  see,  etc.,  etc. 

From  the  criticisms  of  the  press  it  would,  it  does,  appear  that  the 
reading  world  wants  to  know  every  and  all  events,  facts,  incidents, 
thoughts,  feelings,  and  adventures  of  Lincoln,  including  the  books  he 
read  and  the  girls  he  crhugged,"  and  the  like,  upon  the  fact  of  human 
experience  that  the  man  grows  out  of  the  boy  and  the  boy  out  of  the 
child.  The  foundations  of  manhood  are  laid  in  the  boy,  deep  down  in 
the  boy.  Mrs.  Thomas  Bush  Lincoln  did  her  job  well  in  making  Abe; 
she  is  the  good  angel  who  did  it ;  she  had,  too,  choice  material.  Now 
when  you  go  to  the  southern  part  of  Indiana,  or  when  you  go  to 
Kentucky,  gather  up  all  the  facts,  dig  'em  out,  run  'em  down,  of  L/s 
youth,  and  when  I  go  to  court  in  Menard  County,  I  shall  do  the  same, 
will  go  there  in  March.  The  second  thing  will  be  to  get  a  perfect 
description  of  Tom  L.,  Nancy  H.,  Sarah  Bush  L.,  Abraham  L.,  which 
you  will  find  in  Sice  Months  m  the  White  House.  There  is  an  old  man 
who  knows  Nancy.  You  will  see  him  in  the  Century.  I  had  nothing  else 
to  write,  and  so  gabbled  along,  wanted  to  send  slips  of  paper  most. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Springfield,  III.,  January  %<2, 1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  am  at  home  once  more  and  I  am  glad  of  it,  and  I  suppose  that 
you  are,  because  I  can  have  more  time  to  write  my  notes.  In  a  few 
days  I  shall  send  to  you  the  books  on  Lincoln  which  I  wrote  to  you 
about,  some  time  since.  By  this  time,  I  guess  that  you  have  read  my 


LETTERS     FBOK     HEENDON  157 

letters,  evidences,  etc.,  about  Lincoln ;  and  by  the  way  let  me  ask  you 
a  question,  which  is  as  follows :  How  did  you  like  my  Ann  Rutledge 
lecture,  as  a  whole  and  especially  that  part  which  talks  about  the 
old  settler?  There  was  not  much  of  "the  malaria"  in  them  nor  any  of 
"the  miasmatic"  sickly  indolence  in  them,  as  H.  and  Nicolay  write; 
they  were  a  brave,  generous,  hospitable,  jolly,  rollicking  set  of  boys, 
I  assure  you ;  these  people  were  the  very  devil  for  fun  and  were  warmly 
social;  they  were  the  most  social  of  creatures,  these  people  in  and 
about  New  Salem ;  they  were  rude  and  rough,  it  is  true,  but  full  of 
truth  and  honesty ;  they  were  not  a  gloomy  nor  a  sad  people ;  they  were 
full  of  life,  over-souled,  and  that  is  all.  These  people  were  not  touched 
by  "the  malaria'*  nor  dwarfed  by  "the  miasma."  The  "boys"  say  this 
in  order  to  show  that  the  sadness  of  Lincoln  was  of  the  forest.  This  is 
all  nonsense.  Lincoln's  sadness,  gloominess,  etc.,  were  the  result  of  his 
organism  and  facts  subsequent  to  his  birth ;  he  knew  a  great  deal  of  his 
birth,  etc.,  more  than  one  thinks.  Forest  life  does  not  make  a  man  sad, 
nor  gloomy,  nor  melancholic ;  it  makes  a  man  sincere,  earnest,  thought- 
ful. Away  with  "the  malarial"  and  "miasmatic"  idea ;  it  is  nonsense  or 
worse  than  that. 

I  understand  that  the  Nation  is  giving  the  ccboys"  a  considerable 
lashing.  The  editor  sees,  as  all  men  and  women  see,  that  the  "boys" 
are  covering  up  things,  evading  sharp  facts,  suppressing  important 
things,  facts,  and  events  in  Abraham's  young  life.  Some  of  the  finest 
episodes  in  L.'s  young  life  are  omitted  or  evaded  or  smothered  up  in 
words.  Read  in  H.  and  N.  Lincoln's  courtship  with  Miss  Todd  and 
what  came  of  it,  and  then  tell  me,  if  you  possibly  can,  the  real  facts 
of  that  sad,  terrible  event.  Can  you  tell  me  anything  about,  can  you 
tell  to  the  inquiring  soul  anything  about,  the  facts  of  Lincoln's  court- 
ship of  Miss  Todd  and  what  came  of  it?  It  is  apparent  to  all  persons 
who  read  the  article  spoken  of  that  something  is  kept  back,  facts 
smothered  by  many,  many  words.  The  boys  had  better  have  told 
the  truth  or  kept  wholly  silent  on  the  subject,  for  the  tendency  of 
veiled  things,  stories,  is  to  magnify  the  thing  half  concealed.  Men 
and  women  are  inquisitive,  and  hint  a  thing  to  them  only  and  they 
will  flash  the  story  falsely  seen  to  suit  the  demands  of  the  mind.  I  once 
wrote  a  piece  on  this  very  question  for  Mr.  Thorndike,1  of  the  North 
American  Review,  which  talks  out  in  school.  I  wish  that  Thorndike 

i  Allan  Thorndike  Rice. 


158 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


would  publish  it  now  while  the  fever  is  up ;  it  would  put  the  story 
right  and  convince  the  people  that  there  was  one  man  in  America  who 
dares  to  tell  the  truth  who  was  not  writing  the  life  of  Lincoln  under 
the  surveillance  of  "Bob"  Lincoln.  H.  and  N.,  in  my  opinion,  are 
afraid  of  Bob;  he  gives  them  materials  and  they  in  their  turn  play 
hush.  This  is  my  opinion  and  is  worth  no  more  than  an  honest  opinion. 

There  was  a  story  current  here  some  years  since  that  Lincoln 
courted  a  young  lady  here  by  the  name  of  Rickard.  My  wife's  step- 
mother was  a  Rickard  and  the  sister  of  the  courted  girl.  My  wife  says 
that  her  stepmother  told  her  that  Lincoln  wanted  "Sue,"  that  is,  Susan 
Rickard ;  she  is  still  living  here  and  I'll  try  and  get  the  truth  out  of 
her.  Women,  as  a  general  rule,  do  not  love  to  blab  about  these  things, 
especially  to  the  general  public.  I  once  had  Miss  Rickard's  confidence 
and  I  think  I  hold  it  yet.  I'll  see  about  the  matter  when  I  have  time 
and  the  fruit  sought  is  ripe.  I  do  want  to  get  at  the  exact  truth  of  all 
the  Lincoln  facts.  I  have  tried  to  do  so  for  twenty  years  or  more  and 
will  to  the  very  end.  The  reading  world  is  entitled  to  truth ;  it  is  their 
right  to  have  it,  and  it  is  our  religious  duty  to  tell  it. 

I  will  see  Mrs.  Francis  and  Mrs.  Edwards  and  get  out  of  them  some 
facts  which  I  want  and  they  know — at  least  I  think  they  do  know  what 
I  want.  Mrs.  Francis  once  was  quite  a  woman,  a  shrewd  one,  a  friend 
of  Miss  Todd  and  Mr.  Lincoln ;  it  was  she  who  patched  up  Miss  Todd's 
and  Lincoln's  grievances.  Mrs.  Francis  belonged  to  the  aristocracy  of 
this  city  till  she  moved  to  Oregon,  or  to  the  great  open  wide  wild  West 
from  which  she  has  returned  to  her  old  nest  to  die. 

If  you  will  look  at  your  Indiana  paper,  you  will  see  that  it  makes 
this  criticism,  namely,  that  one  of  Lincoln's  biographers  makes  a 
statement  of  a  fact  and  that  all  others  simply  follow  in  his  wake,  fol- 
low in  detail  what  the  first  one  uttered,  a  mere  flock  of  sheep  following 
where  the  ram  goes,  and  this  is  to  a  certain  extent  very  true ;  and  yet 
it  is  equally  true  that  there  must  be  a  thread  to  every  narrative  of 
facts,  if  of  considerable  length.  Now  the  question  comes,  is,  how  to 
avoid  the  just  criticism  and  yet  keep  in  view  the  thread  of  the  narra- 
tive? Take  the  killing  of  Abraham  Lincoln's  grandfather  as  an  illus- 
tration; shall  we  go  over  the  same  old  story  in  length,  in  detail,  or 
shall  we  simply  say  that  he  was  killed  by  stealth  in  Kentucky  while 
opening  a  farm  about  the  year  1781  or  2  ?  Lamon  first  tells  the  story 
and  then  Arnold  and  then  H.  and  N.  and  then  shall  we?  I  think  it 


LETTEES  FBOM  HEENDON  159 

best  to  cut  the  story  short  but  keep  in  view  the  thread  of  the  narrative. 
Friend,  keep  a  keen  lookout  for  criticisms,  and  we  will  avoid  much 
fault-finding.  We  ought  to  condense.  We  ought,  as  the  diamond-seller 
says,  to  give  a  fine  color,  a  keen  and  sharp  cutting,  and  a  gem  full 
of  fire  to  our  production.  In  better  words,  let  our  gem  have  a  fine 
color,  a  sharp  and  keen  cutting,  and  filled  with  blazing  fire.  We  should 
keep  Truth  always  before  us  and  then  fire  it. 

Hay  and  Nicolay  say  in  the  January  number  of  the  Century  sub- 
stantially this :  that  Speed  was  the  only  intimate  friend  that  Lincoln 
ever  had,  and  that  Speed  and  Lincoln  poured  out  their  souls  to  each 
other.  Possibly  I  do  not  understand  what  they  mean  by  the  word 
vntimate.  If  they  mean  to  say  that  Lincoln  had  no  friends,  after 
Speed,  to  whom  he  poured  out  his  soul,  then  it  may  be  true,  but  the 
question  comes:  Did  he  pour  out  his  soul  to  Speed?  Lincoln's  nature 
was  secretive,  it  was  reticent,  it  was  "hush."  Did  Lincoln  violate  that 
whole  nature?  He  may  have  opened  to  Speed  in  one  direction  under 
conditions.  He  was  courting  Miss  Todd  and  Speed  was — well — you 
can  guess.  These  facts  brought  the  two  close  together,  and  on  the  love 
question  alone  Lincoln  opened  to  Speed  possibly  the  whole.  Did  Lin- 
coln tell  Speed  his  love  scrapes  with  Ann  Rutledge  as  well  as  others  ? 
He  did  not.  See  Speed's  letter  to  me  in  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln.  .  .  , 
Still  another  question  comes :  Did  Lincoln  and  Speed  or  either  of  them 
open  the  facts,  their  minds,  to  Hay  and  Nicolay  about  the  intimate 
friendship  ?  Who  authorizes  H.  and  N.  to  assert  what  they  do  assert  ? 
How  do  H.  and  N.  know  that  Lincoln  and  Speed  poured  out  their  souls 
to  one  another?  If  to  tell  a  friend  some  facts  in  one  line  or  direction 
constitutes  intimate  friendship,  then  Lincoln  always,  before  and  after 
Speed  left  Illinois,  had  intimate  friends,  and  if  Lincoln's  refusal  to 
tell  all  the  secrets  of  his  soul  to  any  man  shows  a  want  of  intimate 
friendship,  then  Lincoln  never  had  an  intimate  friend.  Poetry  is  no 
fit  place  for  severe  history.  I  think  the  truth  is  just  here,  namely,  that 
under  peculiar  conditions  and  under  lines  of  love  and  in  that  direc- 
tion they  were  intimate  friends.  No  man  pours  out  his  whole  soul  to 
any  man ;  he  keeps  millions  of  secrets  in  his  own  bosom,  with  himself 
and  God  alone ;  he  would  keep  them  secret  from  God  if  he  could.  Such 
broad  assertions  as  H.  and  N.'s  are  lies  and  nothing  less.  Did  H.  and 
N.  enter  Lincoln's  and  Speed's  minds  and  read  the  story?  Nonsense* 
Let  us  keep  shy  of  poetry  or  poetical  license  in  our  book,  if  we  can. 


160  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Let  us  ever  keep  in  mind  facts,  truths,  and  then  write  tersely  and  to 
the  point,  plainly  to  the  understanding  of  the  great  mass  of  men,  to 
the  common  people.  Lincoln  has  often  said  to  me :  "Don't  shoot  too 
high,  aim  low." 

Enclosed,  with  this  is  a  letter  which  I  wrote  to  Mr.  Poole  1  in  *86, 
which  you  can  read  and  file  away.  In  the  letter  I  say,  and  now  affirm, 
that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  riddle  and  a  puzzle  to  his  neighbors  generally. 
Some  few  knew  the  man  inside  and  outside ;  he  was  at  once  a  many- 
sided  and  a  ma.ny-mooded  man.  At  times  he  had  his  spells  in  which 
he  seemed  to  be  destitute  of  reason.  In  the  Poole  letter,  in  my  hurry 
while  writing  it,  I  may  have  pressed  the  idea  of  heredity  too  far  or 
given  it  too  much  force.  I  shall  correct  the  letter  and  the  idea  some- 
time when  I  write  to  you.  The  letter  was  in  fact  hurriedly  written  and 
I  had  no  time  to  correct  nor  rewrite  it.  Read  it  and  tell  me  how  you 
like  it  in  general.  I  do  not  in  fact  pride  myself  on  the  letter. 

Your  friend, 
W.  EL  HERNDON. 


January  £8, 1887. 
Friend  Weik:   ' 

You  must  expect  some  repetition  where  I  write  so  many  different 
letters  to  different  men  all  over  the  Union,  east  and  west,  north  and 
south.  I  cannot  help  it  entirely  and  no  man  could.  What  I  cannot  help 
I  am  not  to  be  censured  for. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  H. 


Springfield,  III.,  January  1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

Judge  Matheny  tells  me  this  story  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lincoln ;  the 
story  was  told  him  by  one  of  the  parties  to  it.  About  the  year  1850 
there  lived  in  this  city  a  man  by  the  name  of  Tiger,  who  was  a  personal 
friend  of  Lincoln ;  he  was  a  kind  but  a  powerful  man  physically.  Tiger 
heard  that  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  without  help  and,  knowing  that  Mrs. 
Lincoln  was  a  tigress  and  could  not  for  any  length  of  time  keep  a 

i  See  letter  of  January  5,  1886.  "" 


LETTEBS  PEOM  HEBNDON  161 

girl,  thought  that  he  had  a  niece,  who  was  a  fine  girl,  industrious,  neat, 
saving,  and  rather  handsome,  who  could  satisfy  anybody  on  earth. 
So  he  sent  the  girl  down  to  see  Mrs.  Lincoln ;  she,  Mrs.  L.,  was  anx- 
ious to  get  a  girl,  and  arrangements  were  made  between  the  two 
that  Sarah,  the  girl's  name,  should  stay  and  help  Mrs.  L.  Everything 
went  on  well  for  some  time,  Mrs.  L.  bragging  of  her  Sarah  all  the  while 
to  her  neighbors  and  visitors.  Sarah  herself  was  no  common  hired 
girl,  but  a  fine  woman  and  rather  intelligent,  pleasant,  and  social. 
Mrs.  Lincoln  at  last  got  on  one  of  her  insane  mad  spells,  insulted 
and  actually  slapped  the  girl,  who  could  and  would  not  stand  it.  So 
she  quit  Mrs.  Lincoln,  went  home  to  her  uncle  Tiger's,  and  told  her 
story,  weeping  and  crying  all  the  while.  Tiger  felt  bad  about  the 
matter  but,  knowing  that  all  quarrels  generally  have  two  sides  to 
them,  he  was  determined  to  find  out  the  truth  of  the  matter.  So  he 
went  down  to  Lincoln's  and,  when  he  got  there,  he  saw  that  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln had  thrown  the  girl's  trunk  and  clothes  out  of  the  house  and  on 
the  pavement  in  the  street.  On  approaching  the  house,  he  saw  the 
things ;  and  just  in  the  yard  stood  Mrs.  Lincoln  ready  for  a  fight. 
Tiger  advanced  and  spoke  to  Mrs.  Lincoln  in  a  kind  and  gentlemanly 
way ;  said  he  came  to  see  her  and  find  out  who  was  in  fault,  and  what 
was  the  matter,  all  about  it.  Mrs.  L.  at  once  blazed  away  with  her 
sharp  and  sarcastic  tongue,  having  her  insane  mad  spell  on  her, 
abused  Tiger  shamefully,  calling  him  a  dirty  villain,  a  vile  creature, 
and  the  like.  Tiger  stood  still,  waiting  for  an  opportunity  to  pitch  in 
a  word  of  peace  and  reconciliation,  but  to  no  purpose.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
got  madder  and  madder,  boiled  over  with  her  insane  rage,  and  at  last 
struck  Tiger  with  the  broom  two  or  three  times.  Tiger  now  got  mad, 
but  said  nothing  to  Mrs.  Lincoln,  not  a  word,  stood  the  licking  as 
best  he  could.  Tiger  at  last  gathered  up  the  clothes  of  the  girl  and, 
being  a  strong  man,  threw  the  trunk  on  his  shoulder  and  carried  it  and 
the  girl's  clothes  home  to  his  niece.  The  older  the  thing — his  licking 
by  Mrs.  L. — got,  the  madder  Tiger  got,  and  so  he  swore  to  himself 
that  no  man's  wife  should  thus  treat  him  and  go  free  from  a  whipping 
or  at  least  the  husband  should  humiliatingly  apologize  for  the  wrong 
done  him  by  his  wife.  The  longer  the  thing  stood  in  Tiger's  mind,  the 
more  furious  Tiger  got,  and  so  he  went  down  into  the  city  in  search 
of  Lincoln,  in  order  to  make  him  correct  the  thing  or  to  whip  him, 
to  apologize  or  to  stand  a  thumping,  licking,  a  severe  whipping;  he 


162  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

after  some  considerable  search  found  Lincoln  in  Edwards's  store 
reading  on  the  counter,  telling  one  of  his  best  stories.  Tiger  caught 
part  of  the  story  that  tickled  him  very  much.  However,  Tiger,  being 
a  man  of  will,  called  Lincoln  out  of  the  store  and  told  him  the  facts  of 
the  fight  between  the  women,  and  his  licking  by  Mrs.  Lincoln,  and  said 
to  Lincoln  that  he  must  punish  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  apologize  to  him, 
Tiger,  or  ...  and  just  here  Lincoln  caught  what  was  coming, 
looked  up  to  Tiger,  having  held  his  head  down  with  shame  as  Tiger 
told  the  story  of  his  wrongs  done  him  by  Mrs.  L.,  and  said  calmly, 
kindly,  and  in  a  very  friendly  way,  mingled  with  shame  and  sadness : 
"Friend  Tiger,  can't  you  endure  this  one  wrong  done  you  by  a  mad- 
woman without  much  complaint  for  old  freindship's  sake  while  I  have 
had  to  bear  it  without  complaint  and  without  a  murmur  for,  lo,  these 
last  fifteen  years  ?"  Lincoln  said  what  he  did  so  kindly,  so  peacefully, 
so  friendly,  so  feelingly,  so  apologetically  in  manner  and  tone,  and  so 
sadly,  that  it  quickly  and  totally  disarmed  Tiger,  who  said  to  Lincoln : 
"Friend,  give  me  your  hand.  I'll  bear  what  has  been  done  me  by  Mrs. 
Lincoln  on  your  account  and  your  account  alone.  I'll  say  no  more 
about  the  matter,  and  now,  Lincoln,  let  us  be  forever  what  we  have 
been,  friends."  Lincoln  instantly  took  and  grasped,  warmly  grasped, 
Tiger's  hand  and  shook  it  in  a  real  friendly,  Western  style,  saying: 
"Agreed,  friend  Tiger,  and  so  let  us  be  what  we  have  always  been, 
warm  personal  friends,"  and  they  ever  were  afterwards.  Thus  ended 
in  the  very  best  feeling  and  warmest  friendship  what  at  one  time 
threatened  to  be  a  terrible  personal  fight.  Both  men  were  physically 
powerful  and  personally  brave,  and  it  is  very  doubtful  which  of  the 
men  was  the  most  powerful.  Lincoln  was  wise  in  not  letting  Tiger  say 
what  he  intended  to  say,  which  was :  "1*11  punish,  whip,  you  for 
your  wife's  wrong."  That  would  have  offended  Lincoln  and  a  fight 
would  have  certainly  ensued.  Lincoln  tapped  the  cloud  before  the  bolt 
came.  I  say  that  Lincoln  was  wise  in  the  right,  exact  moment  where 
wisdom  was  most  needed  and  coolness.  This  little  story  brings  out 
one  of  Lincoln's  best  characteristics — patience,  peace,  shrewdness, 
and  practical  wisdom;  it  affects  me  as  much  as  any  little  story  that  I 
ever  heard  of  Lincoln.  God  bless  the  man.  He  has  blessed  him  as  He 
has  blessed  no  other  man.  Sometimes  I  can  see  Lincoln  standing  before 
me  as  I  write  about  him,  and  so  it  is  just  at  this  moment  I  see  Lincoln, 
the  sad,  the  noble  man. 


iLETTERS     FEOM     H  E  E  K  B  O  JT  163 

I  hope  that  you  can  read  this  fine  little  story,  ending  in  peace  and 
lasting  friendship  between  two  old  personal  friends.  It  is  a  good  story 
and  one  that  can  be  relied  on ;  it  comes  from  the  right  quarters  and 
through  men  who  know  what  they  are  talking  about,  men  of  truthful- 
ness, honor,  integrity. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Mrs.  Lincoln  had  the  insanity  of  madness  and  not  the  madness  of 
insanity  before  she  left  for  Washington. 

H. 


Spring-field,  III.,  January  SO,  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  wish  to,  as  it  were,  repeat  some  things  in  order  to  make  my  ideas 
clean  and  clear.  I  have  tried  to  understand  some  of  the  philosophy 
of  N.  and  H.  They  say  in  the  January  number  of  the  Century  at 
page  378,  I  think,  that  Lincoln's  sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy 
were  caused  by  his  constitutional  tendencies  slightly — "taint,"  to  use 
their  expression — and  that  that  constitutional  tendency  was  intensi- 
fied by  the  malarial  and  miasmatic  idea ;  they  further  say,  to  add  to 
the  force  of  the  argument,  that  we  of  the  great  West  in  an  early  day 
lived  a  forest  life,  and  that  a  forest  life  made  us  sad,  gloomy,  and 
melancholic,  and  hence  Lincoln's  sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy; 
they  use  the  three  words — sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy — as  I  re- 
member it.  I  have  not  the  January  number  of  the  Century,  having 
loaned  it  to  my  son.  N.  and  Hay  further  state  that  we  of  the  great 
West  of  an  early  day  were  unsocial  and  never  smiled,  only  laughed. 
Now  all  this  is  but  to  prove  that  Lincoln  was  sad,  gloomy,  and 
melancholic,  slightly  through  his  organism,  which  slightness  was  in- 
tensified by  the  malarial  and  forest  life  idea.  Let  me  see  as  to  this 
argument.  What  is  sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy?  They  mean  a 
state  of  sorrow,  dejection,  and  an  idea  that  bodes  an  evil,  which  throw 
their  shadow  over  the  face  of  the  man.  That  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  sad, 
gloomy,  and  melancholic  man,  I  admit;  his  sadness,  etc.,  were  prin- 
cipally and  chiefly  caused  by  his  organism,  his  make-up  and  Ms  con- 
stitution, which  certain  tendency  of  it  was  intensified  by  a  series 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOI/K 

of  facts  happening  to  him  in  his  after  life  and  a  knowledge  coming 
to  him  of  the  lowness  of  his  origin,  his  mother's  illegitimacy,  his 
aunt's  looseness,  his  father's  loss  of  manhood  possibly,  and  doubts 
of  his  own  paternity,  etc.,  etc.  These,  with  the  untimely  death  of 
Ann  Rutledge,  and  his  unfortunate  marriage  to  Miss  Mary  Todd, 
and  the  hell  that  came  of  it,  caused  Lincoln's  sadness,  etc.,  i.e.,  inten- 
sified his  original  nature.  Lincoln's  philosophy  was  a  gloomy  belief — 
terribly  so.  But  let  me  continue.  Does  a  forest  life  make  man  and 
woman  sad,  gloomy,  and  melancholic?  Remember  what  I  said  as  to 
the  nature  of  sadness,  etc.  That  a  forest  life  makes  men  and  women 
sincere,  thoughtful,  earnest,  sedate,  reticent,  contemplating,  deter- 
mined, which  appear  on  the  face,  there  is  no  doubt ;  and  this  state  has 
been  called  sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy  by  N.  and  H.  Nonsense. 
A  nation  may  probably  be  sad  alone,  not  dejected,  not  feeling,  not 
having  the  idea  on  the  face  of  a  coming  evil,  a  boding  desolation.  A 
people  may  be  sad,  that  is,  be  serious,  earnest,  etc.,  and  this  is  the 
case  with  the  American  people.  The  Americans  are  comparatively  a 
sad  people.  They  have  an  unconscious  destiny  before  them,  and  that 
makes  them  sad.  Again  N.  and  H.  say  that  we  of  the  great  West 
in  early  times  never  smiled,  only  laughed.  Had  these  gentlemen  been 
raised  in  the  wild,  wide  West  where  Lincoln  was  raised,  they  would 
never  have  talked  so  wildly.  Had  they  been  here  in  an  early  day, 
they  would  have  seen  men  and  women  smile  and  laugh  at  every  dance 
and  at  every  corn  shucking,  at  every  social  gathering,  and  at  every 
hoe-down,  at  every  muster  and  at  every  election,  at  every  camp  meet- 
ing and  shooting  match,  at  every  fireside  and  on  every  highway ;  they 
would  have  seen,  had  they  been  here,  a  social,  jovial,  cheerful,  gen- 
erous, and  an  honest  people,  smiling  and  laughing  everywhere  as 
occasion  demanded.  To  $m$e  is  but  a  half-tickling,  but  to  laugh  is  the 
highest  outburst  of  the  human  soul  in  the  line  of  joyous  feeling.  The 
boys  should  not  speculate ;  they  should  stick  to  facts.  Lincoln's  sad- 
ness in  short,  etc.,  were  constitutional,  and  those  states  were  intensi- 
fied by  facts  and  knowledge  of  his  after  life,  by  his  conditions  and 
his  environments,  socially,  morally,  mentally,  the  death  of  Ann  Rut- 
ledge  and  his  marriage  to  Miss  Mary  Todd  and  the  hell  that  grew 
out,  came  out  of  it.  Lincoln's  philosophy  played  its  part  in  his 
gloomy  states.  I'll  explain.  Lincoln's  marriage  was  a  policy  marriage 


LETTERS     FROM     HERN DON  165 

and  he  paid  the  penalty  of  it,  and  the  payment  of  that  penalty  wrote 
its  receipt  on  his  face. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Would  it  not  be  a  good  idea  to  get  our  Springfield  papers  to  say  in  a 
short  way  that  they  understand  that  Herndon  &  Co.  are  writing  about 
the  life  of  Lincoln  ? 

Springfield,  El,  February  5,  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

It  is  said  by  some  of  the  biographers  of  Lincoln  that  "he  never  drank 
a  drop  of  liquor  in  his  life"  and  that  he  never  chewed  nor  smoked  a  cigar 
or  pipe.  It  is  not  true  that  Lincoln  "never  drank  a  drop  of  liquor  in  his 
life" ;  it  is  true  that  he  never  smoked  or  chewed  tobacco.  Mr.  Lincoln 
did  sometimes  take  a  horn ;  he  played  ball  on  the  day  of  his  nomination 
at  Chicago  in  1860  with  the  boys,  or  the  day  before  that,  and  did  drink 
beer  two  or  three  times  that  day  and  during  the  game  or  play ;  he  was 
nervous  then,  excited  at  that  particular  time,  and  drank  to  steady  his 
nerves.  Lincoln  has  been  often  heard  to  say  that  "I  never  drink  much 
and  am  entitled  to  no  credit  therefor,  because  I  hate  the  stuff."  A 
friend  once  asked  Lincoln  this  question :  "Don't  you  like  liquor,  Lin- 
coln?" and  to  which  L.  replied :  "No,  it  is  unpleasant  to  me  and  always 
makes  me  feel  flabby  and  undone."  Lincoln  had  a  low  or  slow  circula- 
tion of  the  blood,  and  hence  he  had  not  much  wear  and  tear  of  the  tis- 
sues of  the  body ;  and  hence  no  very  strong  thirst  or  appetite  for  stimu- 
lating drinks,  nor  other  tonics ;  he  had  a  good  but  moderate  appetite 
for  food,  and  was  satisfied  with  almost  anything  that  would  satisfy 
hunger,  anything  with  which  "to  fill  up."  Lincoln  in  thought  and  in  act 
moved  slowly,  mentally  and  physically.  He  reasoned  from  the  simple  to 
the  complex,  from  the  concrete  to  the  abstract,  from  fact  to  principle, 
from  these  to  laws,  through  analogy ;  he  was  a  worshiper  of  principles 
and  laws.  To  him  everything  was  Law.  These  persons  generally  who 
have  a  rapid  circulation  and  [are]  somewhat  nervous,  who  think 
quickly  and  act  quickly,  have  much  of  the  wear  and  tear  of  the  tissues 
of  the  body,  and  consequently  desire  stimulants — tonics,  and  some- 
times unfortunately  much  of  them,  to  restore  the  loss  of  tis&ues,  or  to 
arrest  further  loss  or  destruction  of  them.  Such  men  generally  love 


166  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

strong  food,  heat-giving  food,  and  demand  it,  are  somewhat  dyspeptic, 
because  of  the  strong  food,  and  the  excess  of  it,  and  their  bad  digestion. 
Lincoln  had  a  good  appetite  and  good  digestion,  ate  mechanically, 
never  asking  why  such  a  thing  was  not  on  the  table  nor  why  it  was  on  it, 
if  so ;  he  filled  up  and  that  is  all ;  he  never  complained  of  had  food  nor 
praised  the  good.  Lincoln  was  rather  silent  at  the  table,  holding  but 
little  conversation  there  with  anyone.  I,  on  the  circuit,  have  sat  down 
with  Lincoln  a  thousand  times,  it  may  be,  at  the  table,  and  he  never 
made  any  fuss  about  the  food  on  the  table;  he  ate  and  went  about  his 
business,  though  the  food  was  "cussed  bad,"  as  eight  out  of  ten  at 
the  table  would  say.  Some  would  swear  at  it  and  others  would  laugh  at 
their  misfortunes  in  not  getting  "goodies."  Lincoln  did  drink  when  he 
thought  that  it  would  do  him  good ;  he  was  never  seen  under  the  in- 
fluence of  liquor  more  than  once  or  twice  in  his  younger  days  when  it, 
liquor,  was  quite  in  universal  use. 

Lincoln  was  a  riddle  and  a  puzzle  sometimes ;  he  loved  best  the 
vegetable  world  generally,  though  his  food  was  of  a  mixed  kind ;  he 
loved  a  good  hot  cup  of  coffee ;  and  especially  did  he  love  apples  ;  he 
would  wrap  his  forefinger  of  his  right  hand  and  his  thumb  around  the 
equatorial  part  of  the  apple  and  commence  eating  it  at  the  blossom 
end,  never  using  a  knife  to  cut  or  peel  the  apple.  I  have  seen  him  read, 
study  his  case  and  the  law  of  it  intently,  while  eating  his  apple.  His  ta- 
ble at  home  generally  was  economized  to  the  smallest  amount ;  he  never 
dared  as  a  general  thing  to  invite  his  friends  to  his  house.  Judge  Davis 
told  me  that  Lincoln  never  invited  him  to  his  house,  and  have  heard 
many  others  of  Lincoln's  best  friends  say  the  same  thing.  Mrs.  Lin* 
coin  was  a  very  stingy  woman  and  yet  she  would  occasionally  have 
parties.  Lincoln  himself  had  none  of  the  avarice  of  the  get  and  yet  he 
had  a  tinge  of  it  in  the  keep;  he  was  not  generous  in  his  money  matters, 
unless  he  had  some  view  in  end.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  the  cause  of  his  poor 
tables;  she  economized  here  to  swell  otherwise.  Poor  unfortunate 
woman  1  Wish  that  she  had  done  better.  The  world  will  better  under- 
stand the  woman  and  the  cause  of  much  of  her  and  Lincoln*s  troubles 
when  Thorndike  Rice  of  the  North  American  Review  publishes  my 
article  on  Lincoln,  his  marriage,  etc.,  until  which  time,  form  no  crys- 
tallized unchangeable  opinion.  Rest  easy  and  be  content. 

Your  hurried  friend, 
W.  H.  HEB.NDON. 


LETTERS     FB.OM     HEENDON  167 

Springfield,  IU.y  February  69  1887 
Friend  Weik: 

That  Lincoln  had  his  peculiar  states  above  described  no  one  doubts, 
and  that  they  sprang  out  of  his  organism  admits  of  as  little  doubt. 
There  is  a  physical  organism  and  an  intellectual  one  in  every  hu- 
man being.  Minds  are  of  different  kinds.  Some  minds  require  much  evi- 
dence before  believing  and  some  less.  Every  mind  must  believe  or  fail 
to  believe  on  certain  evidence  and  some  minds  are  credulous  and  some 
incredulous.  This  difference  comes  out  of  the  intellectual  organism,  as 
we  call  it  for  the  sake  of  an  idea.  Mr.  Lincoln's  mind  required  much 
evidence  to  produce  conviction :  it  was  an  incredulous  mind  and  nat- 
urally disposed  to  doubt,  deny,  was  skeptical.  Now  the  question  comes : 
"Did  Lincoln's  gloom,  etc.,  come  out  of  his  intellectual  organism,  or 
his  physical?"  Or  put  in  different  words :  "Did  his  mind  with  his  phi- 
losophy make  him  such — gloomy,  etc. — or  did  his  physical  organism 
alone  make  him  so  ?"  It  was  his  physical  side  that  did  it. 

Lincoln's  philosophy  grew  out  of  his  mind,  which  was  bottomed  on 
the  physical  as  a  boy  grows  out  of  a  man,  an  oak  out  of  an  acorn :  it 
had  to  be  just  as  it  was  and  could  not  be  otherwise  by  any  means ;  and 
now  another  question  comes :  "Did  his  philosophy  make  him  more  such, 
etc.,  than  he  otherwise  would  have  been?"  His  philosophy  may  have 
tinged,  have  colored  or  intensified,  his  sadness  somewhat,  a  little,  but 
it  did  not  cause  his  sadness,  etc.  What  was  Lincoln's  philosophy?  He 
was  honestly  a  fatalist  and  has  been  often  heard  to  say :  "I  always  was 
a  fatalist,"  and  quoted  Shakespeare  as  follows : 

There's  a  divinity  that  shapes  our  ends, 
Rongh-hew  them  how  we  will. 

He  believed  in  predestination,  foreordination,  that  all  things  were 
fixed,  doomed  one  way  or  the  other,  from  which  there  was  no  appeal. 
He  has  often  said  to  me :  <cWhat  is  to  be  will  be  and  no  efforts  nor 
prayers  of  ours  can  change,  alter,  modify,  or  reverse  the  decree."  Lin- 
coln was  somewhat  superstitious,  had  a  kind  of  foreboding  of  his  fate ; 
he  said  to  me  more  than  a  dozen  times  this :  "I  feel  as  if  I  shall  meet 
with  some  terrible  end" ;  and  then  would  become  more  sad.  Lincoln  al- 
ways, to  me  in  our  private  conversations,  said  that  there  was  no  free- 
dom of  the  will,  rather  the  mind  as  a  whole ;  he  maintained  that  there 
was  no  conscious  act  of  any  man  that  was  not  moved  by  a  motive,  first. 


168  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

last,  and  always.  Finally  Mr.  Lincoln  believed  in  constant  modes  of 
operation  in  nature,  continuous  and  unchangeable  ones  eternally, 
Law,  in  short,  that  ruled  both  matter  and  mind.  This  philosophy  of 
Lincoln  I  have  heard  him  state  many,  many  times  in  our  philosophical 
discussions,  private  office  conversations.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  natural, 
necessary,  and  inevitable-doomed  Infidel — logically  and  absolutely  so ; 
he  was  under  his  law ;  and  it  is  all  folly  for  any  man  to  say  that  Mr. 
Lincoln  was  a  Christian  and  believed  in  the  efficacy  of  prayer.  You 
might  put  the  following  words  in  Lincoln's  mouth  and  they  would  be 
substantially  true :  "What  can  I  do — what  can  any  man  do — what  can 
the  whole  race  molded  into  one  man  do — to  arrest  the  workings  of  this 
terrible,  this  iron,  this  all-powerful  machine  that  by  decree  and  doom 
moves  in  its  inevitable  and  omnipotent  way  to  its  own  ends,  working 
out  new  life  and  grinding  in  death  forever?  What  [can]  change  this 
power  and  arrest  its  operations,  which  are  certain,  absolute,  and 
eternal!  This  vast  iron  machine  moves  in  no  mysterious  way,  moves 
with  an  omnipotent  force.  I  cannot  act  against  it.  No,  I  cannot  even 
t hmk  against  it !"  Here  you  have  Lincoln's  philosophy,  his  religion, 
and  his  thoughts.  Lincoln  in  his  younger  days  tended  toward  scientific 
materialism,  that  is,  he  believed  that  behind  all  these  phenomenal  mani- 
festations of  the  universe  there  was  a  power  that  worked  for  righteous- 
ness, as  seemed  to  us.  He  would  not  call  that  power  God.  He  called  it 
Maker.  In  after  life  he  used  the  familiar  language  of  the  day,  and 
called  it  God.  He  did  not  use  the  word  God  in  any  religious  sense, 
Christian  sense  rather.  He  was  most  emphatically  an  Infidel,  was  so 
logically,  naturally,  inevitably  so,  as  his  philosophy  reveals — and 
demonstrates. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  111.,  February  9,  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  have  read  the  February  number  of  the  Century,  the  article  by 
H.  and  N.,  and  find  it  a  rather  poor  thing ;  it  is  wordy  and  windy  and 
takes  no  note  of  time  for  the  benefit  of  the  reader  in  this  short  life  of 
ours.  I  [can],  and  so  can  anyone,  write  the  substance  of  the  article,  so 
far  as  a  knowledge  of  Lincoln  is  concerned,  in  ten  lines.  The  writers 


LETTERS     PBOM    HEENDON  169 

say,  tell,  a  good  truth  when  they  state  that  "Lincoln  received  every- 
body's confidence  and  rarely  gave  his  own  in  return."  This  is  most 
emphatically  Lincoln.  Again  the  "boys"  state  another  fact — namely, 
that  Mr.  Lincoln  had  great  individuality  which  he  never  sank  in  the 
mob  nor  mixed  it  with  any  class  of  men ;  his  individualism  stood  out 
from  the  mass  of  men  like  a  lone  cliff  over  the  plain  below.  Again  the 
"boys"  say  that  Mr.  L.  had  a  great  dignity,  and  that  is  the  truth.  I  do 
not  use  the  word  "boys"  in  any  contemptuous  sense.  I  respect  them 
very  much ;  they  are  doing  a  good  thing.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  very  plain 
man  and  of — to  a  certain  point — easy  approach,  quite  democratic, 
somewhat  social,  but  beyond  a  certain  ring  of  self-respect  which  sur- 
rounded and  guarded  his  person  no  man  ever  dared  go  without  a  silent 
but  powerful  rebuff.  Lincoln  kept  aloof  from  men  generally,  few  knew 
him ;  he  would  be  cheerful  and  chatty,  somewhat  social  and  communica- 
tive, tell  his  stories,  his  jokes,  laugh  and  smile,  and  yet  you  could  see, 
if  you  had  a  keen  sense,  perception  of  human  character,  that  Lincoln's 
soul  was  not  present,  that  it  was  in  another  sphere;  he  was  an  ab- 
stracted and  an  absent-minded  man ;  he  was  with  you  and  he  was  not 
with  you ;  he  was  familiar  with  you  and  yet  he  kept  you  at  a  distance, 
substantially  saying  to  himself:  "This  nature  of  mine  is  mine  alone, 
and  it  is  sacred  ground  on  which  no  man  shall  tread."  It  is  well  to  note 
this  peculiarity  of  Lincoln.  This  peculiar  nature  of  Lincoln  will  ex- 
plain to  you  why  it  was  that  Holland  never  found  out  anything  while 
here  gathering  up  facts  of  Lincoln's  lif e ;  and  it  further  explains  why 
there  was  such  a  disagreement  among  the  citizens  of  Springfield  gen- 
erally as  to  the  nature,  qualities,  and  characteristics  of  L.  Turn  to  my 
long  article  which  I  sent  you — the  one  prepared  for  the  Tribune — and 
you  will  see  what  Holland  says  as  to  the  opinions  of  the  good  people  of 
this  city  about  L.  Few  knew  the  man  and  the  many  were  ignorant ;  and 
hence  the  disagreement  among  ourselves  as  to  the  man.  Lincoln  was 
reticent,  secretive,  incommunicable,  in  some,  many,  lines  of  his  charac- 
ter. The  "boys"  do  not  say  all  that  I  repeat  here  to  you ;  and  it  is  well 
to  note  what  I  say,  if  you  wish  to  know  the  man  which  you  are  soon  to 
write  about.  I  have  seen  and  felt  all  this  in  Lincoln  a  thousand  times.  I 
have  stated  all  this  many,  many  times  to  the  reading  world.  See  Six 
Months  m  the  White  House,  see  Truth  Seeker,  etc.,  etc.,  and  other  let- 
ters scattered  through  the  papers  from  1865  to  1887  and  including 
my  letters  to  you.  What  I  say  here  is  but  a  repetition,  but  it  is  well 


170  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

enough  to  say  it  again  and  again.  Lincoln's  individualism  was  great, 
so  was  his  dignity,  so  was  his  reticence,  abstractedness  and  absent- 
mindedness — a  peculiar  man,  this  Abraham  was. 

You  ask  me  some  questions.  I  never  was  in  Kentucky,  except  along 
the  line  on  the  Ohio  River,  since  the  assassination  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  The 
Speeds  live  about  four  miles  from  Louisville.  The  picture  which  Speed 
told  me  about  was,  as  I  remember  it,  a  painting,  a  painting  possibly 
full-size,  by  Carpenter.  The  little  book  of  which  you  speak  is  now  in 
Lamon's  hands ;  he  will  not  give  it  back  to  me ;  it  was  only  loaned  to 
him.  I'll  tell  you  all  about  it  when  I  see  you,  can't  risk  the  substance  in 
a  letter — too  long  and  too  much  of  it.  Mrs.  Dale  did,  I  think,  one  day 
go  to  my  private  drawer  and  read  part  of  the  book,  as  I  am  informed. 
She  didn't  see  the  beautiful  if  she  did.  It  is  probable  that  I  let  her  see 
the  book — it's  a  good  long  time  since,  and  I  cannot  recollect  every- 
thing exactly  as  it  was  in  minutiae  though  I  can  in  substance  as  well  as 
I  ever  could,  though  sixty-nine  years  of  age.  I  am  glad  that  you  have 
the  picture  of  Mrs.  Vineyard. 

I  am  not  acquainted  with  Washburne  much,  though  I  may  write  to 
him  or  get  someone  to  do  it ;  he  would  be  a  good  man  for  our  purposes 
and  plans.  It  is  prudent  probably  that  we  should  not  press  our  venture 
till  we  can  see  the  publisher  face  to  face  with  our  manuscript  in  our 
hands  and  then,  as  you  well  say,  ccWe  can  talk  business,"  and  not  well 
before.  We  will  find  in  good  time  a  publisher,  fear  not,  despair  not. 

I  am  glad  that  you  are  going  to  Kentucky  in  search  of  new  facts  and 
old  ones,  if  true,  on  Lincoln.  The  Enloe  business  should  be  probed  to 
the  bottom,  including  the  character  of  Nancy  Hanks.  I  once  saw  a 
letter  published,  it  was  in  some  Kentucky  paper,  in  which  Miss  Hanks 
was  described  as  a  cheerful,  rollicking,  daring,  reckless  "gal,"  break- 
ing through  all  rules  of  propriety  or  forms,  etc.,  in  society,  and  that 
she  became  sad  while  in  Indiana.  The  man  is  now  living  and  in  Ken- 
tucky who  wrote  the  letter,  think  his  "fiz"  is  in  the  Century.  However, 
you  can  get  lots  of  evidence  on  this  ground.  I  was  told  that  Ben 
Hardin,  old  Ben  of  Kentucky,  used  the  "gal"  when  he  pleased.  When 
you  are  done  in  Kentucky,  if  you  go  there  first,  go  into  the  southern 
part  of  Indiana,  taking  with  you,  if  you  want  to,  my  friend  Wartman 
of  Evansville.  I  am  going  to  Menard  court  in  March  and  I'll  see  what 
I  can  and  take  notes,  and  then  write  to  you.  I  shall  see  Mrs.  FranciSj. 
Edwards,  Susan  Talbott,  and  other  people,  and  catch  up  what  I  can 


LETTEBS    ^EOM    HEUNDON  171 

I  shall  do  at  all  times  and  places  just  what  I  promise  you  that  I  will 
do.  I  am  "sorter"  insane  on  the  question  of  telling  the  truth,  and  do- 
ing what  I  promise  if  I  possibly  can.  In  the  meantime,  rest  easy.  I 
cannot  do  all  things  "right"  off,  for  I  have  to  fight  for  bread  and  but- 
ter, and  this,  you  know,  takes  time.  I  am  busy  on  my  farm  and  only 
write  to  you  in  the  night  or  on  rainy  or  bad  days,  when  I  cannot  work. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield,  IU.9  February  11, 1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  at  all  times  the  popular  man  in  Sangamon 
County,  the  capital  county  of  this  State,  L/s  home,  and  there  is  a  good 
reason,  many  reasons  for  it.  In  the  first  place,  he  was  not  understood 
by  the  mass  of  men ;  in  the  second  place,  he  was  not  a  social  man,  not 
being  "hail  fellow  well  met'5 ;  and,  in  the  third  place,  he  was  a  man  of  his 
own  ideas,  had  the  courage  of  his  convictions  and  the  valor  of  their 
expression.  Lincoln  was  social  in  spots,  at  courts  on  the  circuit  as  we 
traveled  around  with  the  judge ;  he  was  courageous  in  his  ideas  every- 
where and  at  all  times.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  a  warm-hearted  man,  posi- 
tively so ;  he  was  abtr acted  and  absent-minded.  When  in  one  of  his 
moods  he  was  abstracted  and  absent-minded  and  would  not  notice  a 
friend  on  the  street,  though  spoken  to  pleasantly ;  he  would  straddle 
along,  stride  along,  not  noticing  his  friends  nor  reply  to  any  good- 
morning  salutation.  All  this  was  taken  for  coldness,  dignity,  pride, 
etc.,  etc.,  by  some,  and  hence  by  that  some  and  his  friends  Lincoln  was 
misjudged  and  disliked.  These  moods  of  Lincoln,  when  I  have  met  him 
on  the  street,  caused  him  to  pass  me  unnoticed,  though  spoken  to 
warmly  and  kindly,  and  yet  I  know  the  man  so  well  that  I  paid  no  at- 
tention to  it,  rather  I  have  felt  for  him,  sympathized  with  the  suffer- 
ing, sorrowful,  sad  man.  Hell  was  to  pay  in  his  family  frequently,  and 
this  intensified  his  states.  Lincoln  was  a  m&nj-sided  man  and  a  many- 
mooded  one,  and  how  do  you  expect  the  mob  to  understand  greatness 
in  misery?  I  was  the  firm,  devoted  friend  of  Lincoln  from  1833  to 
1865,  and  nothing  could  move  me  from  my  convictions  of  Lincoln's 
goodness,  honesty,  and  greatness.  I  voted  for  him  all  the  time  against 
the  world.  I  helped  for  years  to  write  him  up  in  our  Ittmois  Journal 


172  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  other  papers  in  this  and  other  States.  Lincoln  and  I  frequently 
disagreed  on  measures  and  men,  never  on  principle,  as  I  now  recollect 
it.  Before  Lincoln  was  assassinated,  I  doubted  the  policy  and  the  prin- 
ciple of  a  tariff  except  for  revenue  alone,  and  today  I  am  a  radical  free 
trade  man.  In  1847—49  I  saw  that  Lincoln  would  ruin  himself  about 
the  Mexican  War,  and  his  opposition  to  it,  and  so,  being  his  friend  and 
not  seeing  the  question  as  he  did,  I  tried  to  prevent  Lincoln's  destruc- 
tion. I  wrote  to  him  on  the  subject  again  and  again  and  tried  to  induce 
him  to  silence,  if  nothing  else;  but  his  sense  of  justice  and  his  courage 
made  him  speak,  utter  his  thoughts,  as  to  the  war  with  Mexico.  Lin- 
coln and  I  had  many  hot  disputes  in  our  office,  and  yet  those  disputes 
were  friendly  ones.  He  was  never  insulting  nor  dictatorial  to  me.  No 
politician  in  America  can  vote  and  live  if  he  opposes  war  in  which  the 
spread  eagle  is  concerned,  America.  When  Lincoln  returned  home 
from  Congress  in  184*9,  he  was  a  politically  dead  and  buried  man ;  he 
wanted  to  run  for  Congress  again,  but  it  was  no  use  to  try. 

Judge  Logan  tried  his  hand  as  successor  of  Lincoln,  but  Logan  was 
a  failure,  and  a  fizzle.  Here  was  a  cold,  avaricious,  and  little  mean 
man  for  you  as  the  people  saw  him.  Lincoln  from  1849  to  1855  became 
a  hard  student  and  read  much,  studied  Euclid  and  some  mathematical 
books,  read  much  in  the  political  world.  The  repeal  of  the  Missouri 
Compromise  Acts  roused  Lincoln,  waked  him  up  to  his  new  oppor- 
tunities, and  he  seized  them,  and  you  know  the  result.  Lincoln  was 
born  out  of  the  war  and  given  to  the  manhood  of  glory,  such  is  life 
with  an  opportunity,  verily 

There's  a  divinity  that  shapes  our  ends^ 
Rough-hew  them  how  we  will. 

Now,  as  to  Lincoln's  ideas,  the  courage  of  his  convictions,  and  the 
valor  of  their  expression.  First,  Mr.  Lincoln  as  early  as  1836  issued  a 
political  handbill  in  which  he  declared  himself  for  woman's  rights.  His 
keen  sense  of  justice  could  not  refuse  woman  the  rights  which  he  de- 
manded for  himself,  said  to  me  often  that  that  question  was  one  of  time 
only.  Secondly,  he  in  1835-36  wrote  a  little  book  against  Christianity, 
which  was  burned  by  Samuel  Hill,  his  friend ;  he  often  in  conversations 
as  late  as  1850  aired  [  ?]  his  ideas  in  this  city.  I  have  heard  him,  so  has 
Judge  Matheny,  Stuart,  and  many  others.  Thirdly,  in  1844, 1  think, 


I/ETTEBS     FROM     HERNDON  173 

he  advocated  temperance  in  1844*  before  the  Washingtonian  Society, 
both  temperance  and  the  society  being  somewhat  unpopular  at  that 
time.  The  Washingtonian  Society  was  formed  by  a  dozen  or  more 
drunkards;  and  the  elite  and  Christians  of  this  city  more  or  less 
turned  up  their  nice  noses  at  the  men  and  what  they  advocated.  Nearly 
all  men  drank  during  those  days,  and  hence  to  run  up  against  custom 
and  habit  quite  universal  was  unpopular.  Fourthly,  Lincoln  bitterly 
opposed  the  Mexican  War,  as  you  know ;  he  did  so  while  political  death 
stared  him  in  the  face ;  it  buried  him  and  yet  "he  arose  on  the  third 
day"  and  became  our  national  savior.  Fifthly,  he  opposed  slavery 
everywhere  and  at  all  times  when  to  oppose  it  was  political  death.  From 
1820  to  1860  it  was  a  time  of  "doughfaces"  in  the  North.  Lincoln 
turned  his  face  to  flint  on  this  question  and  stood  firm  on  his  con- 
science. Sixthly,  he  opposed  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise  of 
1819—20  with  all  his  soul,  first,  on  the  grounds  of  policy  and,  secondly, 
on  principle.  The  repeal  was  for  a  time  Democratic,  pro-slavery,  and 
popular;  but  Lincoln  with  others  made  the  repeal  unpopular  and 
justly  odious.  This  repeal  was  his  grand  opportunity,  and  he  seized  it 
and  rode  to  glory  on  the  popular  waves.  Seventhly,  he  advocated  the 
policy  of  free  immigration  of  foreigners  and  their  right  to  vote,  when 
Americanism  here  was  popular  and  rampant.  The  question  arose  in 
this  city  as  to  the  right  of  foreigners,  who  had  not  been  naturalized, 
though  they  had  lived  in  this  State  as  residents  for  six  months  or  a 
year  as  the  case  might  be,  to  vote  at  our  city  election.  I  was  city  at- 
torney at  that  time,  as  I  now  remember  it,  and  it  was  my  duty  as  such 
officer  to  see  that  no  one  illegally  voted  and  to  have  them  punished  for 
such  violation  of  the  charter  and  ordinances  of  the  city.  The  question 
was  a  doubtful  one,  one  in  which  different  but  honest  opinions  could 
be  expressed.  I  spoke,  as  attorney  of  the  city  I  think,  to  Lincoln  about 
the  question,  showed  him  the  laws  of  the  State,  the  charter  of  the 
city,  and  its  ordinances,  with  changes  in  the  State  law,  and  asked  him 
his  opinion  of  the  law.  After  looking  over  the  matter  and  taking  his 
time,  he  said  to  me:  "The  question  is  a  doubtful  one,  and  the  for- 
eigner is  taxed  by  the  city,  and  it  is  but  justice  that  they  should  vote 
on  all  questions  of  city  policy  or  interest."  The  precise  question  was : 
Does  a  general  law  passed  by  the  Legislature  repeal  a  city  charter 
without  including  it,  naming  it  directly  or  by  just  inference?  I  said 
"no"  and  this  cut  off  many  votes ;  it  was  compromised  at  last,  how- 


174*  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

ever.  The  Whigs,  Lincoln  being  one,  were  opposed  to  the  foreigners' 
right  to  vote  in  city  matters.  Lincoln  dared  be  just  and  stand  bolt  up- 
right. Eighthly,  Mr.  Lincoln  opposed  Know-Nothingism  in  all  its 
phases,  everywhere,  and  at  all  times  when  it  was  sweeping  over  the 
land  like  wildfire ;  he  and  I  stood  shoulder  to  shoulder  on  this  as  well  as 
all  the  questions  mentioned  herein  except  as  stated.  Ninthly ;  Mr.  Lin- 
coln had  the  courage  to  issue  his  Proclamation  of  Emancipation  when 
one  side  of  the  Republican  party  said  that  he  was  too  cowardly  to  do 
it,  and  the  other  side  said  that  the  issue  of  the  proclamation  at  this 
time  would  lose  the  fall  election  for  the  Republican  party ;  he  had  de- 
cided to  issue  it  and  he  decided  this  time.  The  proclamation  came  as  by 
doom.  He  had  the  courage  in  his  Greeley  letter  to  say  that  what  he  did 
or  failed  to  do  about  emancipation,  etc.,  etc.,  was  not  done  for  the 
Negro,  was  done  to  save  the  Union.  Nor  could  the  Senate  of  the  United 
States  drive  Lincoln  to  dismiss  Secretary  Seward ;  and,  tentHLy  and 
lastly,  when  Mason  and  Slidell  had  been  arrested  by  Captain  Wilkes  of 
the  San  Jaclnto  and  the  press  and  the  people  all  over  the  land  were 
wild  with  enthusiasm  over  the  glorious  event,  demanding  the  punish- 
ment of  these  traitors,  when  the  Secretary  of  War,  the  Secretary  of 
State,  and  his  Cabinet  were  wild  and  furious  for  the  punishment  of 
these  men,  one  cool  head  and  one  brave  heart  rose  up  and  said  sub- 
stantially :  "This  must  not  be,  these  men  must  be  released,  one  war  at 
a  time.  To  punish  these  men  now  would  cause  a  war  between  England 
and  America,  and  that  is  just  what  the  South  wants.  Take  off  the 
shackles  from  these  men,  open  the  doors  of  their  prison,  and  apologize 
to  England/*  and  so  it  was  done,  though  a  bitter  pill  to  take  under  the 
circumstances.  England  will  some  day  rue  her  course.  Here  stands 
Lincoln  a  brave  and  a  great  soul  who  had  the  courage  of  his  convic- 
tions, his  ideas,  and  the  swift  valor  of  their  expression.  How  do  you 
like  the  man,  friend  Weik? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

Had  not  Mr.  Lincoln  been  assassinated  just  when  he  was,  he  would 
have  governed  the  Republican  party  during  his  second  term  or  it 
would  have  crushed  him  if  it  could.  There  would  have  been  a  struggle 
over  policies  and  measures. 

H. 

Lincoln's  ideas  with  his  courage  made  him  at  times  unpopular. 


I,ETTEES     yEOM     HEENDON  175 

Springfield,  IU.9  February  16,  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

Probably  I  have  told  you  this  story  before  and,  if  so,  excuse  me. 
From  the  time  that  Lincoln  and  I  entered  into  partnership  in  the  fall 
of  1843, 1  was  quite  a  reader  in  biographical  literature.  Seeing  a  no- 
tice of  a  fine  Life  of  Burke,  the  English  orator  and  statesman,  I  or- 
dered it  from  C.  S.  Francis  &  Co.,  of  New  York.  I  read  it  carefully,  two 
weeks,  and  liked  it  very  much.  One  morning  I  had  it  on  our  table  and 
was  looking  over  some  few  pages,  which  I  was  desirous  of  reading 
again,  when  Lincoln  came  into  our  office ;  he  looked  rather  cheerful  and 
pleasant.  We  spoke  kindly  to  each  other,  passed  the  compliments  of 
the  morning,  etc.  I  said,  still  thinking  of  the  book:  "Lincoln,  do  you 
not  wish  to  read  an  excellent  and  eloquent  Life  of  Burke,  the  English 
orator  and  statesman?"  and  at  the  same  time  handing  him  the  book; 
he  took  it  in  his  hands  and  hastily  ran  over  some  of  the  pages  of  it, 
reading  a  little  here  and  there,  and  then,  handing  me  back  the  book, 
said :  "No,  I  don't  want  to  read  it.  Biographies  as  written  are  false  and 
misleading.  The  author  of  the  Life  of  his  love  paints  him  as  a  perfect 
man,  magnifies  his  perfections  and  suppresses  his  imperfections,  de- 
scribes the  success  of  his  love  in  glowing  terms,  never  once  hinting  at 
his  failures  and  his  blunders.  Why  do  not,"  said  Lincoln,  "book  mer- 
chants and  sellers  have  blank  biographies  on  their  shelves  always  ready 
for  sale,  so  that,  when  a  man  dies,  if  his  heirs,  children,  and  friends 
wish  to  perpetuate  the  memory  of  the  dead,  they  can  purchase  one 
already  written,  but  with  blanks^  which  they  can  fill  up  eloquently  and 
grandly  at  pleasure,  thus  commemorating  a  lie,  an  injury  to  the  dying 
and  to  the  name  of  the  dead?" 

This  Mr.  Lincoln  said  to  me  in  substance  just  as  I  have  it.  I  felt  the 
force  of  what  he  said,  because  I  had  thought  the  same,  I  may  some- 
times repeat  stories  to  you,  not  keeping  any  record  of  what  I  do  write. 
In  writing  so  much  to  you,  how  can  I  help  it?  Could  you,  if  you  kept  no 
record? 

[W.  H.  HEENDON.] 


Springfield,  JZZ.,  February  18, 1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

...  On  Saturday  evening  I  was  called  out  to  write  the  will  of  Ben- 


176  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

jamin  Bancroft,  and  at  the  house  of  Bancroft  I  found  an  old  friend  of 
Lincoln,  whose  name  is  Fisk ;  he  told  me  the  following  story,  which  is 
correct.  A  man  by  the  name  of  Pollard  Simmons  was  a  good  friend  of 
Lincoln  in  1834—36.  John  Calhoun  was  the  surveyor  of  Sangamon 
County,  was  "the  candle-box  Calhoun"  and  a  Democrat  in  1834-36. 
Simmons  loved  Lincoln,  who  was  very  poor  at  that  time,  and  he  tried 
to  get  Lincoln  in  some  business ;  he  applied  to  Calhoun  as  the  friend  of 
Lincoln  to  give  him  a  deputy  ship  in  the  surveying  business.  Calhoun, 
as  Simmons  remembers  it,  gave  Lincoln  a  deputyship.  Simmons  got 
on  his  horse  and  went  on  the  hunt  of  Lincoln,  whom  he  found  in  the 
woods  mauling  rails.  Simmons  said :  "Lincoln,  I've  got  you  a  job,"  and 
to  which  Lincoln  replied :  "Pollard,  I  thank  you  for  your  trouble,  but 
now  let  me  ask  you  a  question.  Do  I  have  to  give  up  any  of  my  princi- 
ples for  this  job?  If  I  have  to  surrender  any  thought  or  principle  to 
get  it,  I  wouldn't  touch  it  with  a  ten-foot  pole."  "No,  you  do  not,  Lin- 
coln," said  Pollard  Simmons,  and  to  which  Lincoln  replied :  "I'll  ac- 
cept the  office,  and  now  I  thank  you  and  my  superior  for  it." 

You  wish  me  to  state  some  of  Lincoln's  customs  and  habits  about  the 
office  in  Springfield.  Well,  when  he  got  to  the  office  about  9  o'clock  in 
the  morning,  the  very  first  thing  that  he  did  was  to  pick  up  some  news- 
papers, if  I  had  not  hidden  them,  and  read  them  aloud,  much  to  my  dis- 
comfort ;  he  would  spread  himself  out  on  the  sofa,  one  leg  on  a  chair 
and  another  on  the  table  or  stove.  I  have  often  said  to  Lincoln :  "Why, 
Lincoln,  do  you  always  read  aloud?"  and  to  which  he  said:  "When  I 
read  aloud,  my  two  senses  catch  the  idea.  First,  I  see  what  I  am  read- 
ing and,  secondly,  I  hear  it  read,  and  I  can  thus  remember  what  I  read 
the  better."  Sometimes  Lincoln  would  read  something  in  the  papers 
and  that  would  suggest  to  him  an  idea  and  he  would  say :  "That  puts 
me  in  mind  of  a  story  that  I  heard  down  in  Egypt  in  Illinois" ;  and  then 
he  would  tell  the  story,  and  that  story  would  suggest  another,  and  so 
on.  Nothing  was  done  that  morning.  Declarations,  briefs,  pleas,  and 
demurrers  were  flung  to  the  winds.  It  was  useless  to  attempt  to  read 
any  more  that  morning.  Sometimes  Lincoln  would,  when  his  wife  had 
gone  to  church  or  when  she  had  kicked  him  out  of  the  house,  bring  to 
the  office  Willie  and  Tad — these  little  devils  to  me,  so  bad  were  they, 
but  now  little  angels,  I  hope.  These  children  would  take  down  the 
books,  empty  ash  buckets,  coal  ashes,  inkstand,  papers,  gold  pens,  let- 
ters, etc.,  etc.,  in  a  pile  and  then  dance  on  the  pile.  Lincoln  would  say 


LETTERS     FROM     HERNBON  177 

nothing,  so  abstracted  was  he  and  so  blinded  to  his  children's  faults. 

Had  they  s 1  in  Lincoln's  hat  and  rubbed  it  on  his  boots,  he  would 

have  laughed  and  thought  it  smart.  Lincoln  was  a  fool  in  this  line. 
Lincoln  was  a  selfish  man  generally  and  especially  in  the  political 
world  but  was  blindly  generous  to  his  own.  He  worshiped  his  children 
and  'what  they  worshiped ;  he  loved  what  they  loved  and  hated  what 
they  hated — rather,  disliked  what  they  hated,  which  was  everything 
that  did  not  bend  to  their  freaks,  whims,  follies,  and  the  like.  But  poor 
Lincoln  and  Willie  and  Tad.  I  am  now  sorry  that  I  used  to  hate  the 
children.  I  regret  it,  but  human  flesh  could  not  have  borne  it  better 
than  I  did.  I  did  it  out  of  pure  and  perfect  respect  for  Lincoln. 

In  our  disputes  on  law  points — on  principles  in  any  line — Lincoln 
was  never  to  me  insulting  nor  domineering;  he  was  cool  and  patient, 
kind  and  tender.  We  used  to  discuss  philosophy,  which  I  have  written 
to  you  so  much  about.  Lincoln  never  read  much  law,  and  never  did  I  see 
him  read  a  law  book  through,  and  no  one  else  ever  did.  Politics  were 
Lincoln's  life  and  newspapers  his  food.  I'll  keep  on  this  line  a  little 
while. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

A  law  office  is  a  dry  place  for  incidents  of  a  pleasing  kind.  If  you 
love  the  stories  of  murder,  rape,  fraud,  etc.,  a  law  office  is  a  good  place, 
but,  good  Lord,  let  me  forget  all  about  a  law  office. 

H. 


Springfield,  IE.,  February  %4,  1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

As  I  said  to  you,  a  law  office  is  a  dry  place.  There  is  nothing  in  it 
but  work  and  toil.  Mr.  Lincoln's  habit  was  to  get  down  to  his  office 
about  9  a.m.,  unless  he  was  out  on  the  circuit,  which  was  about  six  or 
eight  months  in  the  year.  Our  office  never  was  a  headquarters  for 
politics.  Mr.  Lincoln  never  stopped  in  the  street  to  have  a  social  chat 
with  anyone ;  he  was  not  a  social  man,  too  reflective,  too  abstracted ; 
he  never  attended  political  gatherings  till  the  thing  was  organized, 
and  then  he  was  ready  to  make  a  speech,  willing  and  ready  to  reap  any 
advantage  that  grew  out  of  it,  ready  and  anxious  for  the  office  it  af- 
forded, if  any  in  the  political  world.  If  a  man  came  into  our  office  &m 


178  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

business,  he  stated  his  case,  Lincoln  listening  generally  attentively 
while  the  man  told  over  the  facts  of  his  case.  Generally  Lincoln  would 
take  a  little  time  to  consider.  When  he  had  sufficiently  considered,  he 
gave  his  opinion  of  the  case  plainly,  directly,  and  sharply ;  he  said  to 
the  man :  "Your  case  is  a  good  one/5  or  "a  bad  one,"  as  the  case  might 
be.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  a  good  conversationalist,  except  it  was  in  the 
political  world,  nor  was  he  a  good  listener ;  his  great  anxiety  to  tell  a 
story  made  him  burst  in  and  consume  the  day  in  telling  stories.  Lin- 
coln was  not  a  general  reader,  except  in  politics.  On  Sundays  he  would 
come  down  to  his  office,  sometimes  bringing  Tad  and  Willie  and  some- 
times not,  would  write  his  letters,  write  declarations  and  other  law 
papers,  write  out  the  heads  of  his  speeches,  take  notes  of  what  he  in- 
tended to  say.  How  do  you  expect  to  get  much  of  interest  out  of  this 
dry  bone,  a  law  office,  when  you  know  that  Lincoln  was  a  sad,  gloomy, 
melancholic,  and  an  abstracted  man?  Lincoln  would  sometimes  lie 
down  in  the  office  to  rest  on  the  sofa,  his  feet  on  two  or  three  chairs  or 
up  against  the  wall.  In  this  position  he  would  reflect,  decide  on  what 
he  was  going  to  do  and  how  to  do  it ;  and  then  he  would  jump  up,  pick 
up  his  hat  and  run,  the  good  Lord  knows  where.  Judge  Davis  was 
judge  over,  I  think,  ten  counties,  and  it  generally  took  him  six  to 
eight  months  to  go  around  this  circuit  twice  a  year.  Lincoln  would 
never  come  home  while  the  court  was  grinding  out  justice  on  the  cir- 
cuit, to  see  his  wife  or  family ;  while  all  other  lawyers,  every  Saturday 
night  after  court  hours,  would  start  for  home  to  see  wife  and  babies. 
Lincoln  would  see  us  start  home  and  know  that  we  were  bound  to  see 
good  wife  and  the  children.  Lincoln,  poor  soul,  would  grow  terribly  sad 
at  the  sight,  as  much  as  to  say :  "I  have  no  wife  and  no  home."  None  of 
us  on  starting  home  would  say  to  Lincoln:  "Come,  Lincoln,  let's  go 
home,"  for  we  knew  the  terrors  of  home  to  him.  I  can  see  poor  Lincoln 
now  as  we  turn  our  backs  on  each  other,  one  bound  for  home  and  one 
back  to  the  courthouse.  It's  too  sad  to  think  about.  I  wish  I  did  not 
know  it  all.  Lincoln,  you  know,  was  not  a  social  man,  and  hence  those 
little  mcidents  in  his  office  and  around  his  hearth  which  you  want  so 
much  are  hard  to  gather  and  to  get,  for  they  are  few  and  far  between. 
You  know  the  relation  between  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  you  ought 
to  know  by  this  time  that  the  rich  incidents  at  that  house  were  those 
of  an  unpleasant  nature.  You  had  better  see  Mrs.  Chapman  of  Coles 
County  on  the  subject,  the  question  of  rich  incidents.  I  know  that  she 


LETTEES     FBOM     HEBNDOK  179 

can  tell  you  much  about  the  customs,  habits,  methods  of  life,  etc., 
about  Lincoln's  home. 

You  wish  me  to  state  what  year  Lincoln  and  I  entered  into  partner- 
ship ;  it  was  in  the  fall  of  1843,  and  that  partnership  was  never  dis- 
solved till  the  evening  of  his  assassination.  .  .  .  You  further  wish  me 
to  state  what  the  motives  were  that  actuated  Lincoln  in  taking  me  into 
partnership.  I  answer,  I  don't  know  and  no  one  else  does.  The  Rev- 
erend J.  A.  Reed  of  this  city  knows  all  about  God,  and  why  does  he 
not  know  all  about  Lincoln?  Reed  is  simply  foolish  in  his  attacks  on 
me,  because  I  said  and  published  that  Lincoln  was  an  Infidel.  Reed  is 
a  little  bitter  Christian  and  that's  all  there  is  of  it.  ... 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

Mr.  Weik,  I  do  not  like  to  talk  about  myself,  have  never  followed 
that  practice,  and  never  will.  I  may  say  to  you  that  Lincoln  never  re- 
gretted our  partnership  and  that's  enough. 

H. 

The  Hon.  John  T.  Stuart  got  mad  at  Lincoln  and  myself  because 
Lincoln  did  not  take  him  into  partnership  in  184*3,  and  he  pursued  us 
all  his  life  with  more  or  less  bitterness  on  the  sly. 

H. 


SprmgfieU,  Itt.,  February  25, 1887. 
Friend  Weik : 

I  want  this  to  go  in  our  book,  at  least  in  substance.  Mr.  Lincoln's 
philosophy  was  as  follows :  First,  he  believed  that  what  was  to  be  would 
be  and  that  no  prayers  of  ours  could  arrest  or  reverse  the  decree.  Sec- 
ondly, he  was  a  fatalist  and  believed  that  fatalism  ruled  the  world. 
Thirdly,  he  believed  that  conditions  made  and  do  make  and  will  for- 
ever continue  to  make  the  man  and  not  man  the  conditions.  Fourthly, 
he  believed  that  there  was  no  freedom  of  the  human  mind ;  and,  fifthly, 
he  believed  that  universal,  absolute,  and  eternal  laws  ruled  the  uni- 
verse of  matter  and  of  mind,  everywhere  and  always.  Mr.  Lincoln  also 
contended  that  motives  moved  the  man  to  every  voluntary  act  of  his 
life.  If  the  above  was  Lincoln's  philosophy  or  a  part  of  it,  then  many 
acts  of  his  life  may  be  justly  interpreted  and  the  man  better  under- 
stood by  it.  Lincoln's  patience  sprang  from  his  philosophy ;  his  calm 


180  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

quiet  waiting  on  the  events  of  the  times,  his  coolness,  calmness  under 
the  times  of  terrible  bloody  war,  his  charity  for  men  and  his  want  of 
malice  for  them  everywhere,  all  grew  out  of  his  peculiar  philosophy. 
Lincoln  neither  loved  nor  hated,  never  admired  and  never  censured, 
never  eulogized  and  never  condemned  man.  I  speak  of  Lincoln's  general 
nature.  Is  this  true  and,  if  so,  why  is  it  true?  Men  had  no  free  choice; 
things  were  to  be,  and  they  came,  irresistibly  came,  doomed  to  come ; 
men  were  made  as  they  are  made  by  superior  conditions  over  which 
they  had  no  control ;  the  fates  settled  things  as  by  the  doom  of  the 
powers,  and  laws,  universal,  absolute,  and  eternal,  ruled  the  universe 
of  matter  and  of  mind.  Men  were  but  simple  tools  of  fate,  of  conditions, 
and  of  laws,  and  to  praise  men  on  the  one  hand  or  censure  them  on  the 
other  was  in  the  abstract  wrong  in  principle  at  all  times.  The  thing, 
the  event,  was  to  be  just  as  it  had  come,  and  no  right  and  no  wrong  and 
no  virtue  and  no  vice  should  in  truth  be  attached  to  it.  The  man,  the 
people,  but  obeyed  their  superiors.  The  man,  the  people,  and  the  whole 
race  are  made  by  forces,  conditions,  environments,  around  them,  set 
in  motion  a  million  years  or  more  ago,  sweeping  swiftly  around  the 
universe  every  instant  of  time,  never  flagging,  ever  onward.  .  .  . 

Man  is  compelled  to  feel,  think,  will,  and  to  act  subject  to  the  in- 
fluences of  these  conditions ;  he,  man,  is  a  mere  child  moved  and  made 
by  this  vast  world  machine,  working  in  grooves  and  moving  in  deep-cut 
channels  forever  and  forever;  and  now  what  is  man?  He  is  simply  a 
simple  tool,  a  mere  cog  in  one  wheel,  a  part,  a  small  part,  of  this  vast 
iron  machine  that  strikes  and  cuts,  grinds  and  mashes,  all  things,  in- 
cluding man,  that  resist  it.  Events,  the  fates,  decreed  them,  and  what 
they  decree  is  irresistible  and  inevitable,  and  no  prayers  of  ours  can 
arrest  or  reverse  the  decree.  What  a  man  is,  he  is  because  of  the  condi- 
tions of  the  universe  and  is  entitled  to  no  credit  and  should  have  no 
blame  attached  to  him  for  the  deed.  If  a  man  did  Lincoln  a  grievous 
wrong,  the  man  was  a  mere  tool,  and  did  but  obey  his  superiors.  If  the 
man  did  him  a  good,  he  but  obeyed  the  powers  and  should  not  suffer  for 
the  wrong  nor  [be]  praised  nor  paid  for  the  right.  The  man  was  com- 
pelled, driven,  to  do  what  he  did  do.  It  was  to  be  and  had  come.  If  a 
man  was  good  or  bad,  small  or  great,  successful  or  unsuccessful,  filled 
with  virtue  or  overflowing  with  vice,  and  if  war,  pestilence,  or  famine 
stalked  abroad  over  the  land,  it  all  was  doomed  from  the  beginning. 
Lincoln  was  patient  and  calmly  waited  on  events ;  he  knew  they  would 


LET TEES     FEOM    HE EN DON  181 

come,  because  cause  and  effect,  antecedents  and  consequents,  are  ever 
in  action  following  laws.  Every  event  in  the  universe  was  preceded  by 
some  prior  cause  and  gave  guarantee  of  some  subsequent  event  flowing 
therefrom.  It  is  possible  that  Lincoln  did  not  fully  believe  that  Brutus 
was  specially  made  to  kill  Caesar  in  the  Senate  Chamber  of  Rome  with 
a  dagger  and  that  Caesar  was  specially  made  to  be  killed  by  Brutus ; 
and  yet  he  would  believe,  because  it  is  true,  that  both  Brutus  and 
Caesar  were  forced  by  conditions  over  which  they  had  no  control  into 
the  inevitable  paths  and  center  of  forces  that  destroyed  Caesar  and 
made  in  one  short  moment  a  criminal  of  Brutus  and  a  murderer. 

Now  one  word  as  to  Mr.  Lincoln's  religion.  From  Mr.  Lincoln's  ten- 
der heart  and  large  head,  from  his  philosophy  and  from  his  feelings, 
his  thoughts,  his  determinations,  his  willings,  and  his  acts  throughout 
life,  one  is  compelled  to  say  that  Lincoln's  religion  was  of  a  broad  and 
noble  kind — a  liberal,  an  infidel,  one  who  did  not  believe  that  the  Bible 
is  God's  special  and  divine  revelation. 

This  is  all  that  I  propose  to  say,  where  I  have  the  say,  about  Lin- 
coln's philosophy  or  his  religion ;  it  is  a  good  condensation  of  all  that  I 
have  said  to  you  on  that  subject;  and  all  that  is  necessary  to  say. 
What  is  said  is  true  and  will  offend  no  one,  as  I  see  it.  The  truth  ought 
not  to  offend,  where  that  truth  is  stated  in  a  kindly  and  gentle,  manly 
way,  said  to  explain  the  nature,  qualities,  and  characteristics  of  one 
of  God's  great  men,  who  once  was  with  us  and  for  us. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HEENBOK. 

This  is  a  good  condensation  of  all  that  I  have  said  to  you  on  the 
special  subjects  herein;  and  will  probably  supersede  all  other  letters, 
lectures,  etc.  This  does  not  exclude  Lincoln's  sadness,  etc.,  and  the 
philosophy  of  it.  I'll  explain  when  I  see  you. 


Sfiingfield,  IB.,  March  16,  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

Enclosed  you  will  find  a  good  notice  of  Nicolay  and  Hay's  work 
which  I  cut  from  Puck  of  March  9, 1887;  it  is  an  excellent  thing  and 
shows  plainly  that  N.  and  H.  have  introduced  too  much  collateral  and 
unimportant  matter  that  does  not  touch  any  part  of  Lincoln's  life, 
fact,  philosophy,  religion,  qualities,  characteristics,  etc.  N.  and  H. 


182  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

have  entered  too  deeply  in  trash,  nonsense,  collateral  f acts,  unim- 
portant events  and  persons ;  they  have  wearied  the  people,  tired  them 
out.  In  writing  our  book  let  us  avoid  this  step — this  fatal  step.  Let  us 
see  the  mark  and  shoot  for  that  directly  as  with  a  rifle  for  the  center. 
In  other  words  let  us  write  directly  of  Lincoln  and  Lincoln  alone,  leav- 
ing off  facts  and  principles  that  do  not  touch  Lincoln.  Strip  Lincoln 
naked  and  write  of  him  and  of  him  alone.  All  facts  that  explain  Lin- 
coln ?s  life,  his  religion,  philosophy,  his  politics,  his  domestic  life,  etc., 
etc.,  should  be  directly  stated,  honestly — fairly  and  impartially. 
Throw  light  on  this  great  man  and  not  cloud  him  by  verbiage,  nor 
bury  him  under  a  mass  of  unimportant  facts  and  persons — this  is  our 
duty.  This  is  my  idea.  The  people  in  this  city  are  getting  tired  of 
N.  and  H.'s  Life  of  Lincoln ;  they  laugh  at  it  in  Menard  where  I  have 
been.  I  will  soon  send  you  some  information  that  I  got  while  in  Menard ; 
was  sick  during  court  and  couldn't  do  much.  I  saw  Mrs.  Bell  and  she  is 
to  make  us  out  a  copy  of  the  quilt  on  which  Lincoln  stuck  a  stitch  or 
two,  with  a  %  eye  on  the  needle  and  1%  eyes  on  Ann  Rutledge.  It  is  the 
universal  opinion  of  the  old  folk  of  Menard  that  Lincoln  and  Ann  were 
engaged  to  be  married  absolutely.  I  have  examined  the  right  ones  on 
this  question — people  that  know  and  who  are  truthful. 

Your  friend, 

W.  EL  HERNDON. 


Section  Four 


Springfield,  IU.,  AprU  16,  1887. 
Friend  Whitney  *  : 

Your  very  kind  letter,  dated  the  3d  inst.,  was  duly  received.  On  going 
to  the  city  late  on  Saturday,  one  week  ago,  I  found  your  letter  await- 
ing me.  It  was  late  in  the  evening  and  I  had  to  go  home  six  miles  from 
the  city,  and  this  state  of  facts  is  my  excuse  for  long,  long  delay  to 
you.  I  have  carefully  read  your  note  and  I  see  nothing  in  it  that  is  not 
true.  You  hit  Lincoln  very  well.  He  was  a  curious  man  and  was  moved 
by  his  words.  Lincoln  had  no  home,  just  as  you  say.  He  had  a  domestic 
hell  that  he  did  not  like  and  went  there  only  to  eat  and  sleep.  Lincoln 
ought  never  to  have  married  anyone.  He  had  no  quality  for  a  husband. 
He  was  abstracted,  cool,  never  loved,  and  could  not  from  his  very  na- 
ture. What  you  say  about  Lincoln  is  substantially  correct. 

I  cannot  now  tell  you  where  you  can  get  any  of  my  four  or  five  lec- 
tures on  Lincoln.  I  never  thought  enough  of  them  to  preserve  them, 
though  others  stenographed  them  and  were  thus  sent  over  the  coun- 
try. Nicolay  and  Hay  are  failing  and,  as  you  will  say,  are  getting 
"worse  and  worse."  As  to  Lincoln's  stories  I  do  not  remember  any  that 
would  do  to  state  to  a  mixed  audience  in  a  lecture.  They  would  cut 
someone  on  some  point. — Yes,  I  am  going  to  write  the  Life  of  Lincoln 
as  I  saw  him,  honestly,  truthfully,  courageously,  fearlessly,  cut  where 
it  may.  What  you  say  about  Lincoln's  gloom,  sadness,  high  exaltation, 
is  substantially  correct.  Lincoln  felt  the  Honor  and  the  Burden,  but  he 
was  Lincoln  still.  The  exaltation  made  him  more  thoughtful  and  more 
abstracted  and  more  gloomy  and  to  that  extent  more  miserable.  Lin- 
coln once  said  to  me  this :  "I  fear  that  I  shall  meet  with  some  terrible 
end,"  and  this  cloud  always  hung  over  him.  I  will  answer  your  note, 
the  parts  unanswered,  as  soon  as  I  can. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDQN. 

Hope  you  success  in  your  lectures. 

H. 

i  An  attorney  in  Chicago.  See  reference  to  him  in  the  letter  to  Bartlett  of  July  27* 
1887,  below. 

183 


184  THE    HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Springfield,  Itt.,  June  8, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  letter  dated  the  27th  ult.  was  duly  received  and  in  reply  to 
which  let  me  say :  I  have  a  photograph  of  President  Lincoln.  The  one 
I  have  is  taken  with  the  right  cheek,  the  right  side  of  the  face,  to  the 
observer,  hair  tossed  upside  down,  necktie  on  and  collar  turned  down. 
If  you  have  not  got  this,  I  can  possibly  send  you  one  or  I  will  loan  you 
mine  or  give  it  to  you  if  I  must.  This  photo  was  taken  in  Chicago,  as  I 
understand  it,  in  1857. 

I  am  glad  to  know  that  you  are  an  artist  and  will  assist  you  all  I  can 
in  photos  or  otherwise.  I  have  carefully  read  the  criticisms  or  notices 
of  your  Life  of  Rimmer,  the  artist.  The  notices  are  good  and  written 
in  good  taste.  By  the  way,  about  twenty-five  or  thirty  years  ago  I  saw 
a  notice  of  a  work  in  art,  published  in  some  Boston  paper.  I  sent  for 
the  work,  got  it,  read  it  with  pleasure  and  profit.  It  was  enthusias- 
tically written.  I  admired  the  book.  Was  it  written  by  Rimmer?  It  may 
be  that  you  were  the  author.  I  am  not  an  artist  but  a  lover  of  the 
beautiful  in  every  direction.  I  hope  that  you  are  executing  a  bust  or 
something  of  the  kind  of  Lincoln. 

Let  me  subscribe  myself, 
Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  IU.,  June  24, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

Your  kind  letter,  dated  the  14<th  in$t.f  was  duly  received.  At  the  time 
I  received  your  letter  I  got  the  photo  of  Lincoln  from  the  steel  engrav- 
ing by  T.  Dewey,  and  with  it  came  your  photo  of  your  sketch  in  clay. 
The  steel  engraving  is  very  good  and  so  is  your  sketch  in  clay.  The 
photo  from  the  steel  engraving  and  the  one  I  have  are  alike  excepting 
the  one  I  have  has  no  whiskers  on  it.  I  today  send  you  the  one  which  I 
have  and  which  you  are  welcome  to.  I  send  you  the  photo  from  the  steel 
engraving  likewise,  as  you  may  need  it.  What  I  meant  when  I  said  that  I 
would  assist  you  was  this :  I  would  if  you  wished  gather  up  for  you 


I.ETTEES     FEOM     HE END ON  185 

photos,  ambrotypes,  etc.,  such  as  I  could  find  here.  I  am  glad  that  you 
have  a  copy  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  life  mask  and  admire  your  determination 
in  going  to  Paris,  the  city  of  science.  I  hope  that  the  artists  and  phys- 
iognomists of  Paris  will  give  you  a  scientific  and  candid  judgment 
which  will  be  a  revelation  of  Lincoln,  objectively  and  subjectively.  Lin- 
coln was  a  mystery,  a  wonderful  man.  I  hope  that  you  will  give  voice  to 
your  own  thoughts  about  Lincoln  when  you  get  ready.  I  once  de- 
livered in  this  city  three  or  four  lectures  on  Lincoln  in  which  I  gave  my 
poor  opinion  of  the  man,  and  if  you  will  get  a  copy  of  Six  Months  m  the 
White  House  by  the  artist  Carpenter,  you  will  find,  toward  the  end  of 
it,  my  views  in  substance.  It  is  a  small  book  and  indexed.  The  substance 
was  stenographed  by  a  friend.  I  think  that  the  book  will  help  you.  I 
knew  Lincoln  well  for  more  than  a  quarter  of  a  century  and  I  studied 
the  man  inside  and  outside  as  well  as  I  could.  You  speak  of  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's fine  physical  nature,  but  to  see  and  study  the  man  you  would 
say  that  Mr.  Lincoln's  physical  nature  was  comparatively  low, 
coarse,  and  not  fine  and  high.  He  seemed  to  have  no  blood  in  his  frame, 
his  flesh  was  dark,  wrinkled,  and  folded ;  it  looked  dry  and  leathery, 
tough  and  everlasting ;  his  eyes  were  small  and  gray ;  head  small  and 
forehead  receding ;  but  when  this  great  man  was  moved  by  some  great 
or  good  feeling — by  some  idea  of  liberty  or  justice  or  right — then  he 
seemed  an  inspired  man.  It  was  just  then  that  Lincoln's  nature  was 
beautiful  and  in  complete  harmony  with  the  laws  of  the  great  Eternal. 
I  have  seen  him  in  this  enshrined  condition  and  thought  that  he  was 
molded  in  the  spirits  but  mad.  Lincoln  was  a  great  man,  a  good  man, 
and  a  pure  one,  and  beneath  his  rough  exterior  nature  wove  her  fine 
network  of  nerve.  In  Six  Months  in  the  White  House  I  tried  to  de- 
scribe Lincoln.  This  book  may  assist  you;  it  will  not  do  you  any 
harm.  .  .  . 

May  I  say  to  your  private  ear  that  I  am  engaged  in  writing  the  Life 
of  Lincoln,  the  special  purpose  of  it  being  to  fill  a  blank,  as  I  see  it?  I 
could  tell  you  much  about  Lincoln  if  I  could  sit  down  and  talk  with 
you  for  a  day  or  so,  but  we  are  too  far  apart  to  sit  down  in  chairs  and 
chat.  I  forgot  to  say  above  that  in  my  poor  opinion  Lincoln  had  not 
arrived,  when  he  was  assassinated,  at  the  meridian  of  his  intellectual 
power. 

Your  friend, 
W.  EL 


186  THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

Springfield,  Itt.,  July  8,  1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  Friend : 

I  received  your  letter  and  note  dated  the  28th  uLt.9  for  which  please 
accept  my  thanks.  At  the  time  that  the  letter  and  note  came  to  hand  I 
received  the  two  photos  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  I  thank  you  for  them  too.  The 
history  of  the  photo  in  Garrison's  possession  is,  I  think,  as  follows: 
Mr.  Garrison,  even  after  Mr.  Lincoln's  assassination,  came  out  to  Il- 
linois, came  to  my  house  and  stayed  with  me  some  seven  or  eight  days ; 
he  and  my  wife  seemed  to  enjoy  each  other's  company.  Garrison  and  I 
went  out  to  see  Lincoln's  monument,  etc.,  etc.  While  he  was  my  guest 
he  presented  me  with  the  photos  of  himself  and  wife,  that  is,  he  gave 
them  to  my  wife ;  they  are  now  in  her  album  and  in  her  possession.  My 
wife  says  that  she  in  return  gave  Garrison  Lincoln's  photo,  thinks 
that  she  recognizes  this  as  the  one,  the  original  now  in  Garrison's  pos- 
session. My  good  wife  dearly  loved  Garrison  and  is  now  in  the  prime  of 
her  life.  I  do  not  think  that  she  is  mistaken  as  to  the  facts,  though  she 
may  possibly  be.  It  is  a  fact  that  she  did  give  Garrison  Lincoln's  photo. 
By  the  way,  the  photo  about  which  I  am  talking  is  an  excellent  one  of 
Lincoln,  the  very  best  one  ever  taken  of  him.  The  artist  caught  him  in 
a  good  humor,  state,  mental  condition,  feeling,  thought,  or  what  you 
will.  Again  I  thank  you  for  it.  As  soon  as  I  can  get  time  I  will  go  into 
our  photo  galleries  and  look  over  the  photos,  and  if  I  see  any  thing 
good  or  bad,  I'll  send  it  to  you,  if  I  can  get  it.  I  am  busy  right  now.  I 
had  to  deliver  a  Fourth  of  July  notice  in  an  adjoining  court  on  the 
Fourth  and  hence  got  a  little  behindhand — will  soon  catch  up. 

(In  your  letter  of  the  28th  idt.  you  state  in  these  words :  "When  I 
spoke  of  Lincoln's  fine  physical  nature  I  meant  it  from  a  physical  point 
of  view,  that  is,  I  would  say  he  had  a  fine  physical  nature,  was  tall, 
healthy,  strong,  mobile  in  movement,  and  of  good  proportion."  I  un- 
derstood you,  and  now  you  will  pardon  me  if  I  state  that  he  was  not  of 
good  proportion,  was  six  feet  four  inches  high  in  his  sock  feet,  was 
thin,  wiry,  sinewy,  not  MUSCULAR,  weighed  from  160  to  180  pounds; 
and  if  you  mean  by  the  word  mobUe,  nimbleness  of  motion,  ease  of 
movement,  grace  of  movement,  you  are  mistaken.  If  you  mean  to  say 
and  I  do  not  so  understand  you  that,  by  the  word  mobUe>  you  mean 
that  Lincoln  had  mutability  of  temper,  then  you  are  correct.  There 
were  great  contrast*  in  Lincoln's  life,  mysterious  ones.  Sometimes  Lin- 


I,ETTEBS     PBOM     HEBNDOK  187 

coin  was  great,  very  great,  and  sometimes  small.  He  was  strong  and 
he  was  weak ;  he  was  sad  and  cheerful  by  turns ;  he  was  good-natured 
generally,  but  it  was  terrible  to  see  him  mad ;  he  was  all  honor,  full  of 
manly  integrity,  sympathetic,  practically  wise,  politically  sagacious, 
never  moved  nor  acted  from  mere  feeling,  but  from  thought,  reason ; 
he  was  cool,  conservative,  and  courageous,  was  truly  a  noble  man. 
When  you  read  Six  Months  in  the  White  House  by  Carpenter,  please 
tell  me  what  impression  it  had  on  you  as  to  Lincoln.  You  are  correct 
when  you  say  that  Lincoln's  brain  was  one  of  QUALITY  and  not  size.) 
Will  you  please  pardon  me  for  being  so  plain,  outspoken?  You  ask  me 
if  iever  saw  in  this  great  wild  West  many  men  of  Lincoln's  type*  and 
to  which  I  answer,  yes.  The  first  settlers  of  central  and  southern  Il- 
linois were  men  of  that  type.  They  came  from  the  limestone  regions  of 
Virginia,  Kentucky,  Tennessee,  etc.,  and  were  men  of  giant  strength, 
physically  fine  and  by  nature  were  mentally  strong.  They  were  orig- 
inals, were  individualists.  They  had  no  education  and  no  culture,  but 
good  nature  helped  them.  The  strong  alone  from  1818  to  1830  could 
get  here,  and  the  strong  alone  could  survive  here.  Some  of  these  men 
were  politicians,  some  lawyers,  some  farmers,  etc.  No  one  was  like 
Lincoln,  and  yet  many  men  were  of  his  type.  I  cannot  now  further  ex- 
plain than  to  say  that  conditions  made  this  class  of  men — may  ex- 
plain to  you  sometime.  Limestone  water,  so  scientists  say,  gave  us  big 
frames,  and  the  struggle  for  life  in  this  urbanship  and  the  South  gave 
us,  if  you  please,  mental  fire.  A  forest  life  makes  us  sad — and  thought- 
ful I  think  that  by  nature  we  were  a  great  people.  We  were  rude  and 
rough,  had  no  polish,  no  culture.  Each  man  and  woman  was  himself  or 
herself  individually;  distinct  individuality  was  the  rule.  Each  fol- 
lowed his  inclinations  and  despised  imitation.  Lincoln  was  Lincoln,. 
Grant  Grant,  Douglas  was  Douglas.  Had  Lincoln  been  a  man  of  high 
culture,  polish,  of  literary  taste,  habits,  etc.,  etc.,  he  may  have  been  a 
good  country  lawyer — that's  all.  I  hope  that  you  understand  me ;  can't 
by  letter  fully  explain. 

(You  are  entirely  correct  about  the  study  of  Lincoln ;  he  was  a  man 
of  "extraordinary  contrasts*' — he  was  Lincoln  and  Lincoln  alone,  and 
none  exactly  like  him.  You  must  study  him  by  himself  and  from  him- 
self. The  reason  why  I  stated  so  much  about  Lincoln  in  my  former  let- 
ter was  this ;  Give  a  sculptor  one  fact,  a  leading  physical  fact,  and  that 
suggests  to  him  another  in  complete  harmony  with  the  other,  Lincoln 


188  THE     HIDDEN"    LINCOLN 

had  large  hands  and  feet — foot  flat.  Hence  a  large  frame,  etc.,  etc. 
Lincoln's  religion  was  practical  and  hence  materialistic,  and  hence 
to  a  certain  extent  was  his  organization,  etc.  I  speak  generally.  Yon 
would  not  look  for  a  well-minded  man  in  such  a  description.  I  have 
studied  Lincoln  inside  and  outside.  Pardon  me.  I  describe  him  to  yon 
as  I  saw  him  and  knew  him.  I  loved  the  man  and  worship,  as  it  were, 
his  memory.  I  owe  to  truth  a  fidelity  and  mean  to  pursue  that  course  to 
the  end.) 

I  hope  that  your  son  will  succeed  to  his  and  his  father's  satisfaction. 
I  and  my  countrymen  shall  be  proud  of  him,  glad  to  know  that  he 
pleased  the  jury  of  French  artists.  I  have  often  thought  that  the  age 
of  the  sculptor  was  gone,  but  I  hope  not ;  so  I  have  thought  of  paint- 
ing and  poetry,  but  I  hope  not,  hope  that  I  am  mistaken. 

You  state  one  fine  truth  as  the  world  thinks  and  moves ;  and  it  is 
this :  "It  is  a  sorry  fact  of  human  nature  that  the  great  truth  about  a 
man  is  not  preferred  to  an  artificial  estimate  of  him,  even  by  those 
who  are  supposed  to  love  him  best/'  Hero  worship,  the  worship  of  the 
ideal  in  man,  is  the  spirit  of  the  age.  Fact  gives  place  to  the  ideal  and 
truth ;  solid  fact  gives  place  to  the  imagination,  and  firmly  revels  in 
the  unreal.  I  have  been  much  abused  for  telling  the  truth  about  Lin- 
coln ;  and  this  I  shall  continue  to  do.  Lincoln  will  rise  in  the  estimation 
of  mankind  the  higher,  the  more  thoroughly  he  is  known,  because  that 
estimate  will  be  formed  from  facts  truthfully  and  courageously  told. 
When  public  opinion  is  thus  formed,  it  never  changes ;  it  rests  on  fact 
— on  eternal  verities. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEK.NDON. 


Springfield,  M.,  JuLy  11, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

On  going  to  the  city  from  my  country  home  on  Saturday  last  I  found 
awaiting  me  your  very  kind  letter,  dated  the  4th  inst.,  and  the  Art  Life 
of  William  Rirwner.  I  am  much  obliged  to  you  for  the  letter  and  the 
precious  book.  The  typography,  the  mechanical  execution  of  the  book, 
is  excellent.  The  literary,  the  thought  department,  must  be  as  good  or 
better.  I  shall  read  the  book  carefully  and  preserve  it  foreYer*  Poor 


I-BTTEBS     F$OM    HEBNBON  189 

William  Rimmer,  how  he  felt  the  shock  and  sting  of  this,  to  some,  cold 
world!  William  was  a  genius.  Genius  always  flutters  around  the  pivot 
of  insanity,  is  shy,  somewhat  unsocial,  retired,  sensitive,  with  a  heart, 
head,  tuned  to  the  harmony  of  the  universe ;  hut  how  it  suffers ! 

The  article  which  you  sent  me  about  Lincoln  and  Douglas  is  untrue 
in  part,  in  the  main  part.  Mr.  Lincoln  only  corrected  his  speeches, 
made  them  talk  as  he  had  talked  on  the  stump.  This  he  did  and  no  more. 
His  corrections  were  only  verbal  and  not  otherwise.  Mr.  Lincoln  told 
me  how  it  was.  I  will  refresh  my  memory  and  correct  the  note  some 
time.  You  ask  me  to  state  to  you  Mr.  Lincoln's  attitude,  pose,  look, 
acts,  gestures,  etc.,  etc.,  while  in  the  act  of  speaking,  addressing  bodies 
of  people.  I  will  do  so  just  as  soon  as  I  can  see  some  old  friends  who 
were  close  observers  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  We  will  have  a  talk  and  then  I  will 
write  to  you  in  full.  I  have  seen  Mr.  Lincoln  in  every  possible  human 
attitude,  have  heard  him  speak  for  many  years. 

I  am  glad  that  you  like  my  stenographed  lecture  in  Six  Months  in 
the  White  House  by  Carpenter.  I  thank  you  for  the  compliment  in  your 
letter.  I  hope  that  will  excel  my  poor  effort  in  your  work,  and  think 
you  will.  I  will  give  you  when  I  can  the  causes  of  Lincoln's  sadness, 
gloom,  and  melancholy,  his  suffering,  etc.,  but  it  must  be  kept  a  private 
matter  for  a  while. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

I  will  gladly  receive  any  photos  you  may  send  me  and  in  looking  over 
them  I  will  give  you  my  opinion.  The  Garrison  one  will  be  among  the 
best,  as  I  think.  Hurriedly,  H. 


Springfield,  HL9  July  17,  1887. 
Friend  Whitney : 

In  your  last  letter  to  me,  dated  the  4th  mst.9  you  state  that  Hesler 
has  three  photos  of  Lincoln — one  taken  in  Chicago  in  1857,  one  in  this 

city  m  I860,  and  one  in  Washington  in taken  with  whiskers.  As 

I  understand,  you  say  that  you  can  send  me  one.  I  will  thank  you  for 
the  one  in  *60 ;  and  if  you  can  send  me  the  one  in  *57,  and  for  which  I 
shall  be  under  many  obligations  to  you. 

I  will  willingly,  as  I  have  time,  give  you  any  opinion  which  I  haire 
«rf  Lincoln,  The  truth  and  the  whole  truth  about  Lincoln  wiH  never 


190  THE     HIBDEN    LINCOLN 

injure  him.  He  will  grow  larger  under  the  blaze  of  truth  and  the  sharp- 
est criticisms  of  the  iron  few.  He  was  too  great,  too  good,  and  too 
noble  to  be  injured  by  truth.  He  had  his  faults,  more  negative  ones,  and 
who  has  not  some  of  these  spots?  The  blazing  sun  has  them  and  so  did 
Jesus  have  them.  What  would  you  give  for  a  true  life  of  Washington — 
the  inside  life  of  him?  The  great  reading  growing  world  shall  have  one 
of  Lincoln,  if  I  live,  but  I  will  catch  the  devil  for  so  doing.  The  world 
demands  truth  and  truth  it  shall  have.  Lincoln  was  a  curious,  wonder- 
ful, mysterious  man,  incomprehensible  by  the  mass  of  men.  I  studied 
Mr.  Lincoln  for  twenty-five  years,  inside  and  outside.  He  was  a  man  of 
opposites,  of  terrible  contrasts.  One  man  today  would  see  Lincoln  in 
one  state  and  the  man  would  say  this  was  Lincoln.  Tomorrow  this  same 
man  would  see  Lincoln  in  a  totally  different  state  and  say  this  was  not 
Lincoln,  and  yet  it  was,  for  Lincoln  'was  under  his  law,  and  that  ruled 
him  with  the  iron  of  logic.  This  caused,  these  contrasts  in  Lincoln 
caused,  the  differences  of  opinions  among  men  in  relation  to  Lincoln. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  many-mooded  man.  One  man  would  see  this  mood 
and  one  man  that,  and  from  seeing  Lincoln  in  one  mood  each  man 
would  form  his  opinion  on  one  phase  of  L.,  and  hence  the  errors  of 
judgment  among  the  people  as  to  L. 


Springfield,  JZZ.,  Jvly  19, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  will  now  answer  your  questions  put  to  me  in  your  letter  of  the 
4th  inst.  In  this  State  and  especially  about  the  center  of  it  we  have  no 
tables,  boxes,  stands,  behind  which  we  address  and  speak  either  to 
jurors  or  to  crowds.  It  is  open  before  us  and  we  speak  from  the  level 
floor  where  we  address  the  jury  and  about  on  a  level  with  them.  Some- 
times the  jurors  are  raised  a  little,  the  back  seat  being  higher  than  the 
front,  so  that  those  behind  can  see  and  hear.  We  speak  from  stumps 
in  the  woods,  if  no  better  can  be  had,  from  boxes,  from  rude  and  tem- 
porary platforms  erected  in  groves,  woods,  or  public  squares  in  cities 
or  villages.  Everything  is  open,  visible,  and  clear.  We  have  no  tables, 
boxes,  boards,  planks  to  hit,  beat,  and  to  bang.  The  speaker  stands  out 


3LETTEHS    PROM    HERN BON  191 

fully  to  public  view,  and  the  crowd  is  seen  plainly  by  the  speaker — so 
much  for  circumlocution  to  catch  an  idea. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  six  feet  and  four  inches  high  in  his  sock  feet ;  he 
was  consumptive  by  build  and  hence  more  or  less  stoop-shouldered.  He 
was  very  tall,  thin,  and  gaunt.  When  he  rose  to  speak  to  the  jury  or  to 
crowds  of  people,  he  stood  inclined  forward,  was  awkward,  angular, 
ungainly,  odd,  and,  being  a  very  sensitive  man,  I  think  that  it  added  to 
his  awkwardness ;  he  was  a  diffident  man,  somewhat,  and  a  sensitive  one, 
and  both  of  these  added  to  his  oddity,  awkwardness,  etc.,  as  it  seemed 
to  me.  Lincoln  had  confidence,  full  and  complete  confidence  in  himself, 
self -thoughtful,  self-helping,  and  self-supporting,  relying  on  no  man. 
Lincoln's  voice  was,  when  he  first  began  speaking,  shrill,  squeaking, 
piping,  unpleasant ;  his  general  look,  his  form,  his  pose,  the  color  of  his 
flesh,  wrinkled  and  dry,  his  sensitiveness,  and  his  momentary  diffidence, 
everything  seemed  to  be  against  him,  but  he  soon  recovered.  I  can  see 
him  now,  in  my  mind  distinct.  On  rising  to  address  the  jury  or  the 
crowd  he  quite  generally  placed  his  hands  behind  him,  the  back  part 
of  his  left  hand  resting  in  the  palm  of  his  right  hand.  As  he  proceeded 
and  grew  warmer,  he  moved  his  hands  to  the  front  of  his  person,  gen- 
erally interlocking  his  fingers  and  running  one  thumb  around  the 
other.  Sometimes  his  hands,  for  a  short  while,  would  hang  by  his  side. 
In  still  growing  warmer,  as  he  proceeded  in  his  address,  he  used  his 
hands — especially  and  generally  his  right  hand — in  his  gestures;  he 
used  his  head  a  great  deal  in  speaking,  throwing  or  jerking  or  moving 
it  now  here  and  now  there,  now  in  this  position  and  now  in  that,  in 
order  to  be  more  emphatic,  to  drive  the  idea  home.  Mr.  Lincoln  never 
beat  the  air,  never  sawed  space  with  his  hands,  never  acted  for  stage 
effect ;  was  cool,  careful,  earnest,  sincere,  truthful,  fair,  self-possessed, 
not  insulting,  not  dictatorial ;  was  pleasing,  good-natured ;  had  great 
strong  naturalness  of  look,  pose,  and  act ;  was  clear  in  his  ideas,  simple 
in  his  words,  strong,  terse,  and  demonstrative ;  he  spoke  and  acted  to 
convince  individuals  and  masses ;  he  used  in  his  gestures  his  right  hand, 
sometimes  shooting  out  that  long  bony  forefinger  of  his  to  dot  an  idea 
or  to  express  a  thought,  resting  his  thumb  on  his  middle  finger.  Bear 
in  mind  that  he  did  not  gesticulate  much  and  yet  it  w  true  that  every 
organ  of  his  body  was  in  motion  and  acted  with  ease,  elegance,  and 
grace,  so  it  all  looked  to  me. 

As  Mr.  Lincoln  proceeded  further  along  with  his  oration,  if  time. 


192  THE    HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

place,  subject,  and  occasion  admitted  of  it,  he  gently  and  gradually 
warmed  up;  his  shrill,  squeaking,  piping  voice  became  harmonious, 
melodious,  musical,  if  you  please,  with  face  somewhat  aglow ;  his  form 
dilated,  swelled  out,  and  he  rose  up  a  splendid  form,  erect,  straight, 
and  dignified ;  he  stood  square  on  his  feet  with  both  legs  up  and  down, 
toe  even  with  toe — that  is,  he  did  not  put  one  foot  before  another ;  he 
kept  his  feet  parallel  and  close  to  and  not  far  from  each  other.  When 
Mr.  Lincoln  rose  up  to  speak,  he  rose  slowly,  steadily,  firmly ;  he  never 
moved  much  about  on  the  stand  or  platform  when  speaking,  trusting 
no  desk,  table,  railing;  he  ran  his  eyes  slowly  over  the  crowd,  giving 
them  time  to  be  at  ease  and  to  completely  recover  himself,  as  I  suppose. 
He  frequently  took  hold  with  his  left  hand,  his  left  thumb  erect,  of 
the  left  lapel  of  his  coat,  keeping  his  right  hand  free  to  gesture  in 
order  to  drive  home  and  to  clinch  an  idea.  In  his  greatest  inspiration 
he  held  both  of  his  hands  out  above  his  head  at  an  angle  of  about  fifty 
degrees,  hands  open  or  clenched  according  to  his  feelings  and  his  ideas. 
If  he  was  moved  in  some  indignant  and  half -mad  moment  against  slav- 
ery or  wrong  in  any  direction  and  seemed  to  want  to  tear  it  down, 
trample  it  beneath  his  feet,  and  to  eternally  crush  it,  thus  he  would  ex- 
tend his  arms  out,  at  about  the  above  degree,  angle,  with  clenched  big, 
bony,  strong  hands  on  them. 

If  he  was  defending  the  right,  if  he  was  defending  liberty,  eulogizing 
the  Declaration  of  Independence,  then  he  extended  out  his  arms,  palms 
of  his  hands  upward  somewhat  at  about  the  above  degree,  angle,  as  if 
appealing  to  some  superior  power  for  assistance  and  support ;  or  that 
he  might  embrace  the  spirit  of  that  which  he  so  dearly  loved.  It  was  at 
such  moments  that  he  seemed  inspired,  fresh  from  the  hands  of  his 
Creator.  Lincoln's  gray  eyes  would  flash  fire  when  speaking  against 
slavery  or  spoke  volumes  of  hope  and  love  when  speaking  of  liberty, 
justice,  and  the  progress  of  mankind.  Such  was  this  great  man  to  me, 
and  I  think,  I  know,  such  he  was  to  thousands,  if  not  to  millions  of  oth- 
ers. I  speak  from  long  knowledge,  observation,  experience,  but  with  my 
poor  reason  impartially.  You  know  my  criticisms  of  Lincoln  as  pub- 
lished in  Carpenter,  and  now  take  this  letter  and  that  criticism,  and  you 
have  my  exact  ideas  of  Lincoln  in  the  fields  touched  upon. 

What  is  here  written  is  written  after  thought  and  after  investigation 
among  close  observing  friends,  my  own  knowledge,  observation,  and 
experience  included,  and  if  these  hasty  words  will  give  you  any  idea 


I*ETTEES    FEOM     HEKNDON  193 

of  Lincoln's  methods,  ways,  manners,  etc.,  etc.,  of  speaking,  etc.,  etc., 
I  shall  be  amply  paid. 

I  have  this  morning  just  returned  from  our  Menard  circuit  court, 
where  I  was  attending  to  my  professional  duties.  It  is  hot  and  I  am 
tired. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBKDON. 

P.S.  In  Carpenter's  book  and  in  my  lecture  I  said  that  Lincoln  had 
no  dignity  "so  called"  I  used  that  word.  I  did  so  meaning  that  Lincoln 
had  no  pride,  haughtiness,  self-conceit,  poorness  of  carriage.  Lincoln 
was  a  man  of  great  dignity  and  yet  democratic,  easy  of  approach.  He 
would  up  to  a  certain  point  allow  any  approach,  but  go  beyond  that, 
and  his  dignity  soon  protected  itself,  and  wilted  the  man  who  dared 
go  beyond  the  proprieties  of  the  occasion. 

H. 

I  distinctly  remember  what  is  said  herein  though  I  conversed  with 
others  to  be  sure. 


Springfield,  III.,  July  $7, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir: 

I  promised  to  answer  your  letter  of  the  15th  intt.  and  will  try  and  do 
so  now.  It  is  a  hard  and  a  difficult  matter  for  two  men  living  at  a  dis- 
tance from  each  other,  by  running  letters,  to  understand  one  another, 
especially  so  if  they  follow  different  pursuits  and  use  local  words,  words 
of  art,  law,  science.  When  I  said  that  Lincoln  was  not  of  a  good  pro- 
portion, I  compared  him  with  others,  the  general  man.  When  you  said 
that  he  was  a  man  of  good  proportions,  you  looked  at  him  alone  and 
compared  his  parts,  organs,  one  with  another — Lincoln's  legs  with 
Lincoln's  arms,  etc.  Now  you  see  where  we  differed.  We  are  both  cor- 
rect. Lincoln  was  a  man  of  good  proportions  when  we  look  at  him 
alone  and  not  by  comparison  with  the  general  man,  the  great  mass  of 
men.  Lincoln  was  out  of  proportion  when  compared  with  the  mass  of 
men.  The  world  is  full  of  fuss  and  fight  simply  because  men  do  not 
understand  one  another.  You  are  correct  when  you  say  that  Lincoln 
was  mobUe  when  looked  at  alone,  one  of  his  parts  compared  with  an- 
other of  his  parts.  This  I  confess.  You  will  find  the  plains, 


194*  THE     HIDDEN     I/INCOLN 

and  outlines  of  Lincoln's  head  and  face  hard  to  catch ;  they  are  so  sub- 
tle. In  this  you  are  clearly  correct.  You  will  have  to  use  many  photos 
— side  views,  half-side  views,  and  front  views  to  catch  the  man  and  the 
spirit  of  him.  I  said  that  your  statue  in  clay  is  good ;  and  I  say  so  now. 
I  have  it  in  my  hands  while  writing  this.  Lincoln  had  the  grace  of  pose 
and  action.  In  my  poor  lecture  in  Carpenter,  a  mere  sketch  of  two  or 
three  lectures,  I  said  that  he  walked  so  that  he  seemed  to  pocket  time, 
walked  easily,  and  to  that  extent  walked  gracefully.  This  is  what  I 
meant  and  so  you  will  perceive  that  we  do  not  much  disagree.  I  try  to 
understand  men's  positions,  natures,  surroundings,  etc.,  etc.,  and  I 
think  I  understand  you.  Again  you  are  correct  when  you  say  that  the 
photographers — ignorant,  unscientific  men,  men  of  no  taste,  no  judg- 
ment— wishing  to  make  a  show  of  art,  ruin  the  photos  which  they  do 
take  by  pencil,  paint,  coloring,  etc.  I  would  give  a  good  many  dollars 
for  a  number  one  photo  of  Lincoln,  but  there  is  none,  as  it  appears  to 
me.  By  the  way,  I  have  just  received  a  letter  from  Mr.  Whitney,  an  at- 
torney and  a  friend  of  mine  in  Chicago,  stating  that  Hesler  has  found  a 
new  picture,  a  first-class  photo  of  Lincoln,  hidden  or  laid  accidentally 
away  for  twenty-seven  years.  Mr,  Whitney  says  that  this  found  photo 
is  the  very  best  photo  ever  taken  of  Lincoln — he  knew  Lincoln  well — 
he  says  he  will  get  and  send  me  one  in  a  few  days  and  I'll  loan  it  to  you, 
will  give  you  my  opinion  of  it.  In  your  last  letter  to  me  you  state  that 
it  is  possible  that  you  will  come  to  Illinois  and  see  the  great  West,  your 
friend  included.  I  would  be  glad  to  see  you  and  happy  if  I  can  give  you 
an  idea  of  L.  After  the  first  of  August  I  shall  be  in  Greencastle,  In- 
diana, where  a  friend  will  assist  me  in  writing  the  Life  of  L.  The  book 
will  not  detail  the  general  history  of  L.  but  will  deal  with  him  as  an 
individual,  as  a  neighbor,  domestically,  as  lawyer,  as  politician,  states- 
man, etc.  A  mere  thread  of  his  general  history  will  be  kept  up  and  no 
more.  In  one  of  my  letters  to  you  I  said  of  us  Western  people,  espe- 
cially of  the  old  settlers,  say  from  1818  to  184*5,  that  they  had  no  cul- 
ture, and  in  reply  to  which  you  state  that  that  expression  in  your  sec- 
tion means  a  college  education,  etc.,  and  not  the  culture  that  comes  of 
observation,  experience,  and  reason.  The  old  settlers  from  1818  to  '4*5 
were  men  of  culture — so  were  the  women,  God  bless  *em.  If  culture  in- 
cludes sharp  observation,  quick  and  broad  experience,  and  a  manly 
reason  of  or  about  men,  commerce,  laws,  institutions,  human  nature, 
and  the  world  and  its  affairs  generally,  excluding  college  education,  I 


LETTERS    PfcOH    HEBNDON  195 

have  never  seen  such  a  people.  I  have  been  in  your  State  and  know  many 
of  your  men  personally  and  all  the  great  ones  of  reputation,  but  for 
good  horse  sense  our  people,  the  old  settlers,  were  your  equals,  if  not 
your  superiors  as  a  mass.  You  ask  me  if  I  know  Walt  Whitman.  I  do 
by  reputation,  have  read  his  Leaves  of  Grass,  etc.  He  is  a  poet  truly 
and  indeed.  I  know  Whittier  and  other  of  your  poets  by  reputations.  I 
like  the  heart  and  sympathy  of  Whittier  and  the  bold  originality  of 
Whitman.  I  knew  Phillips,  Parker,  Garrison,  and  other  of  your  great 
men  personally.  One  more  word,  you  speak  of  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln. 
May  I  say  to  you  that,  take  it  as  a  whole,  it  is  one  of  the  truest  Lives 
ever  written  of  a  man  ?  I  do  not  agree  to  all  it  says. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  4,  1887. 
Friend  Bartlett : 

...  I  duly  received  the  photo  taken  from  an  oil  painting  as  large 
as  life  made  by  Artist  Hunt.  I  thank  you  for  it  and  its  history.  .  .  . 
I  landed  here  on  Monday  night  last  and  I  am  hard  at  work  on  my 
inner,  subjective  Life  of  Lincoln,  his  nature,  characteristics,  etc.,  etc. 
It  is  extremely  hot  and  dry  here — everything  is  burning  up,  and  much 
suffering  this  winter  is  predicted  here  on  that  account.  As  soon  as  I 
get  time  and  the  weather  cools,  I  will  make  notes  of  the  photos  which 
you  sent  me  and  send  them  to  you.  .  .  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBSFDON. 


Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  7, 1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Friend : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  30th  ult.y  is  just  received  and  I  thank  you  for 
it.  I  am  glad  that  you  and  I  now  agree  about  Lincoln's  physical  form, 
and  now  for  the  relationship  between  his  physical  and  mental  make-up. 
Keep  in  view  Mr.  L.*s  form,  including  shape,  etc.  (He  was  a  great  big, 
angular,  strong  man,  limbs  large  and  bony ;  he  was  tall  and  of  a  pe- 
culiar type.  I  said  to  you  once  that  Mr.  Lincoln  had  not  arrived  at 


196 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


maturity  in  1865,  and  I  say  so  now.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  of  a  lower  slow 
mechanical  power,  inside  of  him ;  his  blood  ran  slowly,  had  low  or  slow 
circulation  and  consequently  a  slow  build-up.  As  he  had  a  slow  build- 
up, he  had  a  slow  development :  he  grew  up  like  the  forest  oak,  tough, 
solid,  knotty,  gnarly,  standing  out  with  power  against  the  storm, 
nearly  defying  the  lightning.  Hence  I  conclude  that  he  had  not  ar- 
rived at  his  highest  point  in  1865.  You  see  the  value  of  getting  some 
leading  fact,  great  fact,  of  the  physical  man.  No  other  man  on  the 
continent  could  have  stood  what  Lincoln  did  in  Washington ;  he  had  a 
frame  of  iron.  Now  for  the  mind.  As  Mr.  Lincoln  had  a  slow  circulation 
and  a  slow  build-up,  so  his  mind  acted  slowly  and  his  mind  was  tough, 
solid,  knotty,  gnarly,  more  or  less  like  his  body ;  he  was  angular  in  body 
and  angular  in  thought,  in  idea  and  speech;  he  was  a  tall  and  big- 
boned  man  and  his  speech  was  tall,  strong,  and  big-boned  and  enduring. 
The  convolutions  of  his  brain  were  long ;  they  did  not  snap  off  quickly 
like  a  short  thick  man's  brain ;  they  had  to  have  their  time,  but  when 
those  convolutions  opened  and  threw  off  an  idea  it  was  an  idea,  tough, 
solid,  gnarly,  big,  angular.  Tallness,  height,  generally  indicates  power 
in  the  man.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  what  is  called  muscular,  but  was 
sinewy,  wiry.  The  enduring  power  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  brain,  thought,  was 
wonderful :  he  could  sit  and  think  without  rest  or  food  longer  than 
any  man  I  ever  saw.  Please  see  Lincoln's  strong,  terse,  knotty,  gnarly, 
and  compact  words,  driven  together  as  by  a  sledge  hammer ;  his  sen- 
tences, his  thoughts  as  uttered — are  they  not  grand  types  of  informal 
expression?  What  say  you?  It  is  the  force  of  the  inner  build-up  power, 
mechanical  or  spiritual,  just  as  you  please,  which  makes  the  physical 
and  intellectual  man.  I  have  given  you  the  correspondencies  in  my  own 
rude  rough  way.  The  key  of  the  know  I  have  given  you,  that's  certain, 
and  by  running  throughout,  with  the  assistance  of  that  key,  you  can 
see  Lincoln  as  I  saw  and  knew  him.) 

I  am  very  busy  here  writing  my  memoirs  of  Lincoln  and  have  no  time 
to  run  things  out  for  you.  You  are  enough  for  that — -my  superior,  I 
know. 

I  wffl  keep  my  friends  always,  if  I  can.  I  am  glad  that  you  wish  to 
know  Lincoln  and  I'll  assist  you  to  know  the  man,  if  I  can,  but  I  must 
have  a  little  time.  Ill  more  fully  hereafter  answer  your  letter  of  July 
30.  Write  to  me  as  often  as  you  please  and  I'll  answer  as  well  and  as 
quickly  as  I  can.  Possibly  I  can  help  you  some.  I  am  a  weak  brother 


LETTERS    PEOM    H  E  B  N  3>  O  N  197 

but  will  assist  others  with  that  weakness  to  the  best  of  my  heart  and 
head. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


GreencastU,  Ind.9  August  9>  1887. 
[To  Bartlett.] 
Friend: 

Your  last  letter  and  photo  are  this  minute  handed  to  me — much 
obliged.  Enclosed  is  a  poor  lecture  of  mine — just  found  among  the  rub- 
bish— which  I  delivered  in  the  city  of  Springfield  in  *66.  The  object  of 
the  lecture  was  to  show  Lincoln's  environments — physical,  mental, 
moral — those  things  that  influenced  his  after  life,  it  may  be.  You  will 
probably  be  pleased  with  my  description  of  the  Piorieers  of  Illinois.  I 
came  from  Kentucky  a  boy,  in  '21,  and  know  by  observation  and  ex- 
perience the  men  and  things  written  about.  The  lecture,  to  me  now,  is 
wordy  and  somewhat  strained,  and  yet  it  is  true  to  the  letter.  I  have 
seen  all  the  persons  and  thousands  of  others,  pioneers,  mentioned  in 
this  except  one  or  two  men — think  one  only  as  now  remembered.  You 
once  asked  me  this  substantially :  "Did  you  ever  see  a  man  of  Lincoln's 
type?*'  The  lecture  will  answer :  **Yes,  it  may  be  a  thousand/*  I  wanted 
to  get  out  Lincoln's  love  story  and  his  insanity,  etc.,  badly,  before  I 
fizzled  out.  No  one  else  knew  it  as  I  did  and  no  one  who  knew  part  of  it 
could  write.  Hence  the  lecture,  good  or  bad.  Towards  the  conclusion 
you  will  see  that  I  maintain  that  creative  activity  is  the  law  of  the 
mind.  You  have  an  idea  of  Lincoln.  You  through  mental  creative  ac- 
tivity create  a  sketch  in  clay,  the  counterpart  of  the  idea.  We  receive 
a  sensation  and  we  through  the  laws  of  the  mind  create  a  concept  and 
out  of  that  a  complete,  well-cut  idea.  What  the  law  of  the  brain  may  be 
is  another  and  distinct  question.  Read  the  pioneering  part  especially. 
Excuse  me — am  hurried  and  have  no  time  to  correct  or  rewrite.  Some 
day  I  may  sit  down  and  write  you  a  good  letter,  that  is,  if  I  can.  After 
reading  the  pioneering  part  write  to  me,  telling  me  how  the  people, 
the  description,  strikes  you. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H. 


198  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  11, 1887. 
Mr.  Brisbin. 
My  dear  Friend : 

.  »  .  I  am  here  finishing  writing  the  life — a  peculiar  one — of  Lin- 
coln, and  those  who  love  "God's  naked  truth"  may  like  it.  Possibly  so, 

You  write  to  me  a  very  kind  letter  indeed — and  how  different  is 
your  letter  from  those  that  I  generally  receive  from  ministers  of  the 
Gospel.  I  am  in  excellent  health,  have  no  vices,  and  take  care  of  myself. 
Yes,  I  have  one  vice,  I  smoke.  Speaking  about  my  book,  let  me  say  that 
it  is  thought  that  it  can  be  got  ready  by  January  '88 — hope  so ;  it  wiP 
search  Lincoln's  life  in  some  particulars  thoroughly.  .  .  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  1%,,  1887. 
Friend  Whitney: 

Some  time  since  you  wrote  me  a  letter  in  which  you  gave  me  a  theory 
or  a  fact,  if  you  please,  about  the  cause  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  sadness,  mel- 
ancholy, etc.  You  said  that  those  states  of  Lincoln's  being  were  ante- 
natal. You  further  said,  in  substance,  that  Lincoln's  mother  had  fears, 
thumps,  kicks,  strokes,  knockdowns,  etc.,  etc.  I  do  not  use  your  words, 
but  your  ideas.  Have  you  any  facts  on  which  to  rely  for  your  belief? 
If  you  have,  please  tell  me  all  about  them,  when,  where,  and  by  whom 
done,  etc.,  etc.  Please  answer  me  soon. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  16,  1887. 
[To  Bartlett.] 
My  Friend: 

Your  letter  of  the  10th  m$t.  was  duly  received  and  I  shall  proceed 
at  once  to  answer  it.  I  did  not  intend  to  say  that  Lincoln's  organization 
was  a  low  animal  organization.  What  I  meant  to  say  was  that  it  was 
a  slow-working  machine — blood  ran  slowly,  and  the  like.  Let  me  tell 
you  some  facts,  in  addition  to  the  above.  Lincoln's  flesh  was  coarse, 
pimply,  dry,  hard,  harsh,  color  of  his  flesh  saffron-brown,  no  blood 


SETTEES  FROM  HEXNDON  199 

seemingly  in  it,  flesh  wrinkled.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  an  evacuation,  a 
passage,  about  once  a  week,  ate  blue  mass.  Were  you  to  read  his  early 
speeches  thoroughly  and  well,  you  could  see  his,  then,  coarse  nature, 
his  materialism,  etc.  He  grandly  rose  up  more  spiritualistic,  and  this 
is  one  of  the  reasons  why  I  say  that  Lincoln  was  not  fully  developed, 
in  mind,  at  least.  He  may  have  just  entered  the  field  of  his  power, 
intellectual  power,  but  he  had  not  got  to  the  center  of  it.  If  I  were 
you,  I  would  consult  some  of  the  best  of  Boston's  physicians  on  the 
very  question  of  low  organization.  I  have  a  kind  of  imperfect  idea  on 
this  point.  If  your  physicians  give  you  an  opinion,  please  write  to  me. 
Lincoln  was  superstitious,  believed  more  or  less  in  dreams,  consulted 
Negro  oracles,  had  apparitions  and  tried  to  solve  them ;  he  said  to  me 
once  this :  "Billy,  I  fear  that  I  shall  meet  with  some  terrible  end."  You 
may  show  my  letters  on  this  point  to  your  best  physicians,  physiolo- 
gists, histologists,  anatomists,  etc.,  but  they — my  letters — are  other- 
wise private.  Please  get  your  learned  men  to  assist  us.  The  idea  is 
worthy  of  a  search  and  an  opinion  from  science.  I  have  a  shadow  of 
an  opinion.  The  precise  inquiry  would  be  this:  "Was  Lincoln's  phys- 
ical organization,  as  compared  with  other  men,  of  a  low  order ,  and 
was  it  of  a  low  order  when  only  Lincoln  was  looked  at  by  himself  and 
not  compared  with  other  men?"  This  is  a  question  of  much  interest 
to  me  and  will  be  to  the  world  of  science.  Lincoln  is  a  kind  of  an 
enigma.  When  your  Boston  man  said :  "Lincoln  died  at  the  right  time, 
etc.,"  he  did  not  know  what  he  was  talking  about,  was  sputtering  in 
the  dark.  Lincoln  would  have  led  us  gloriously,  peacefully,  to  the 
end ;  his  martyrdom  may  have  increased  his  fame,  through  the  horror 
of  his  taking  off,  but  you  and  I  are  not  talking  about  the  sympathy 
of  the  world  but  are  looking  deeper  or  higher,  just  as  you  please 
to  express  it.  The  observations  of  that  man  were  cruel — your  Massa- 
chusetts man,  I  mean.  Lincoln  rose  equal  to  the  emergencies  and  would 
have  risen  to  them  under  all  circumstances.  He  would  have  seen  the 
reconstruction  measures  clearly,  clearly.  I  have  a  decided  opinion  on 
this  point,  but  have  no  time  to  express  it. 

In  a  late  letter  to  you,  the  one  enclosed  with  the  Ann  Rutledge 
lecture,  I  made  a  fool  of  myself,  and  it  was  on  this  I  said  to  you :  "How 
do  you  like  my  description,  etc.,  of  the  old  settlers,  etc.?"  I  did  not 
intend  that.  I  meant  to  draw  out  of  you  only  an  idea  of  the  people 
aad  their  classes  in  and  about  New  Salem,  etc.  I  corrected  the  language 


200  THE    HIPDEN    I,  I N  C  O  I,  N 

on  the  outside  of  the  letter.*  By  the  way,  just  now — Sunday  morning 
— Mr.  Weik  has  handed  me  yours  of  August  4,  directed  to  me  at 
Springfield,  Illinois,  and  forwarded  to  me  here — cannot  answer  it 
now — too  late.  The  fact  that  I  am  writing  the  Life  of  Lincoln  is  now 
known  to  quite  all  persons.  Enclosed  I  send  you  a  slip,  etc.,  which  please 
keep  till  you  hear  from  me. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

*In  re  the  words  organization  and  organism — about  synonyms, 
though  there  is  a  little  scientific  difference.  Ask  the  physician  the 
exact  difference  and  write  to  me.  H. 


Greencastle,  Indiana,  August  18, 1887. 
Friend  Whitney: 

Will  you  please  give  me  your  opinion,  first,  as  to  whether  Lincoln 
really  loved  and  trusted  Judge  Davis?  Did  Davis  have  any  influence 
on  Lincoln,  etc.,  etc.  ?  Speak  -fully. 

Second,  what  office  did  Dubois  want  that  Lincoln  did  not,  would 
not,  give  him?  You  know  that  Dubois  in  a  letter  to  you  said  that 
Lincoln  threw  him  away,  etc.,  and  was  ungrateful,  etc.  Who  got  that 
office?  Speak  fully. 

Third,  who  was  most  influential  among  the  big  men  in  getting  Judge 
Davis  appointed  one  of  the  judges  of  Supreme  Court?  Davis  told  me 
that  Lincoln  gave  him  no  assistance  in  the  getting  of  it,  etc.  Speak 
fuHy  and  I'll  not  blab.  Please  write  to  me  on  the  above  questions. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

Do  answer  my  other  letter  wherein  I  ask  about  the  antenatal,  etc. 
The  threats,  kicks,  knocks,  bangs,  stops,  cuffs,  etc.  You  know  what  I 
mean.  H. 


Greenca&tle,  Indiana*  August  8£9 1887. 
Mr.  BartletL 
My  dear  Friend: 

Your  three  letters  of  the  fourteenth,  seventeenth,  and  eighteenth  of 
August  are  before  me,  and  I  shall  answer  them  in  the  order  of  their 


LETTERS     FROM     H  E  E,  N  B  O  N  201 

dates.  Now,  as  [to]  the  first  one.  I  do  not  think  that  New  Salem 
scenery  and  their  people  had  much  to  do  with  Lincoln.  He  had  no 
sense  of  the  beautiful  in  the  physical  world  but  had  in  the  moral  world. 
The  people  of  New  Salem  had  a  good  deal  to  do  in  forming  L.*&  life, 
probably  not  as  much  as  one  would  suppose.  Lincoln  in  head  was  above 
them.  The  Ann  Rutledge  story,  the  facts  of  it,  did  affect  Lincoln's  life, 
I  know,  up  to  '42  and  it  is  quite  likely  longer,  possibly  to  his  death. 
I  fear  that  the  world  will  damn  me  for  opening  things,  unknown  things, 
but  I  am  determined  to  open.  Great  men  have  great  mothers,  and  if 
this  nation  wants  great  men,  it  must  build  up  great  women,  and  in 
order  to  do  that  the  nation  must  open  all  the  avenues  of  life  to  her, 
make  her  equal  to  man  before  the  law.  She  must  be  thrown  on  her  own 
resources  and  thus  in  the  struggle  of  life  develop  herself.  You  speak 
loudly  of  my  lecture,  but  I  shall  have  no  time  to  write  the  Life  of 
Lincoln  in  such  a  style.  I  am  exceedingly  poor,  poor  indeed,  and  would 
starve  if  I  tried  to  write  a  full  Life  of  Lincoln  in  such  a  style,  as  is  in 
the  Ann  Rutledge  lecture.  My  Life  of  Lincoln  will  be  a  limited  one, 
kind  of  subjective,  inner  life,  with  a  mere  thread  of  history  running 
along.  This  life,  if  it  ever  sees  the  light,  will  cause  a  squirm. 

As  to  the  second  letter,  I  still  adhere  to  my  idea  that  Lincoln  had 
not  arrived,  intellectually  at  least,  to  the  height  of  his  power,  and  you 
may  answer  that,  by  the  tables  of  facts  made  by  insurance  and  other 
companies  and  ways  that  it  is  set  down,  the  average  life  of  man,  say 
at  45—50,  but  I  reply:  did  not  Lincoln  grow  up  to  1865,  over  the 
average  age ;  and  now  will  you  fix  the  limit  of  Lincoln's  development, 
my  friend?  What  authorizes  you  to  do  it?  Come,  be  fair.  Compare  his 
Gettysburg  speech  with  his  speeches,  say,  from  184*0  to  1850.  I  am 
firm  in  my  convictions,  because  founded  on  facts :  if  Lincoln  grew  up 
from  youth  to  '65 — over  the  average  life  of  man — will  you  say :  "Here 
is  the  limit  of  Lincoln's  greatness"?  But  how  do  you  know  it?  You 
have  no  fact  to  prove  it  and  so  I  have  the  logic  of  things  on  my  side. 
As  to  his  physical  development,  I  am  not  quite  certain  of  my  idea  on 
that  particular,  am  not  decided  on  it,  am  thinking  on  it. 

In  your  third  letter  you  give  me  a  story  about  Lincoln's  ambition, 
the  Scott  story,  the  Chamberlain  story;  and  to  which  I  say:  in  part 
the  story  is  evidently,  to  me,  correct.  Lincoln  was  ambitious,  and  in 
that  he  was  selfish.  Mr.  Lincoln's  idea  was  that  he  ought  to  be  retained 
the  second  term  because  he  knew  all  the  facts  of  the  great  Rebellion, 


202  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  that  no  man  could  learn  and  understand  them  in  two  years,  and 
that  it  was  best  under  all  the  circumstances  to  keep  him  there.  Lincoln 
doubtless  did  consider  his  success  in  his  second  term  of  vastly  more 
importance  than  the  advancement  of  Grant,  or  all  men  on  the  earth. 
No  earthly  doubt  of  it,  no  doubt  of  it,  none.  Lincoln,  however,  did  not 
intend  to  be  understood  that  the  Rebellion  had  better  succeed  than 
his,  L.'s,  defeat  for  the  second  term.  Lincoln  would  have  offered  himself 
up  as  a  sacrifice  to  squelch  the  Rebellion  and  free  the  slaves,  for  with 
him  it  was  the  whole  matter ;  the  Rebellion  was  a  question  of  human 
liberty,  white  as  well  as  black ;  see  his  Philadelphia  speech.  This  is  my 
opinion,  good  or  bad.  Lincoln  remains  unknown  and,  oh,  what  a  big 
mysterious  man !  In  one  of  your  letters  you  ask  me  this  question  in 
substance :  "Do  you  think  that  Lincoln  wished  to  be  known,  thoroughly 
known?"  and  to  which  I  answer  emphatically:  "No,  he  was  a  hidden 
man  and  wished  to  keep  his  own  secrets."  As  I  trail  the  man  step  by 
step,  like  a  dog  trails  a  fox,  I  find  many  new  spots,  many  new  holes, 
much  to  admire  and  much  to  regret.  It  nearly  kills  me  in  my  old  ag* 
to  persist  in  my  search.  Please  pardon  allusion  to  myself. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Greencastle>  Indiana,  August  85,  1887. 
Friend  Whitney : 

I  have  received  your  two  excellent  letters — facts  in  them  which  I 
have  dreamed  of  long  since,  but  didn't  know.  I  thank  you  for  them, 
Davis,  at  Bloomington,  told  me,  by  inference  at  least,  that  Lincoln 
didn't  give  him  the  judgeship  of  his  own  accord,  but  that  someone 
else  got  it  for  him,  etc.  How  is  this  ?  In  one  of  your  letters,  before  these 
two,  you  state  that  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln  is  full  of  mistakes, 
especially  as  to  what  I  did  and  said — at  least  infer  this  much.  How 
is  this?  If  you  know  of  any  mistakes  in  the  book,  please  note  them 
down  and  write  them  out  for  me.  Your  letters  are  helping  to  form 
history.  They  are  very  well  written  too.  Please  do  not  fail  to  accom- 
modate the  world  and  your  friend.  Probably  I  shall  go  home  about 
September  5-10  for  a  while. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


SETTEES  FEOM  HEBKDON  203 

Greencastle,  Indiana,  September  £9 1887.  . 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  duly  received  your  two  letters,  enclosing  opinions  of  two  of  your 
very  best  physicians,  etc.,  and  for  which  I  thank  you  very  much.  I 
cannot  afford  to  surrender  my  facts  for  theories.  The  pork  theory, 
the  miasmatic  theory,  is  guesswork,  and  not  formed  on  fact.  The  West- 
em  people  lived  on  the  very  best  food  in  the  world — venison,  bear, 
turkey,  fish,  etc.,  etc.,  including  some  hog.  What  I  said  to  you  I  shall 
adhere  to :  as  to  mind,  development,  etc.,  but  as  to  Lincoln's  organiza- 
tion, physical,  I  still  think  that  he  had  a  fine  network  of  nerve  under 
the  coarse  flesh.  You  know  the  crankiness  of  physicians ;  they  have  to 
seek  for  life,  its  sources,  its  origin,  etc.,  and  this  makes  them  insane, 
i.e.,  cranky — theoretical  above  all  classes  of  men.  I  have  seen  them 
examined  in  court  too  often  not  to  notice  their  tending,  their  trend. 

I  am  going  to  Springfield  in  about  five  days,  where  you  can  address 
me — am  worn  out,  must  take  rest  and  recover — am  getting  along 
admirably  well  in  my  book,  as  I  see  it.  I  shall  write  to  you  when  I  feel 
able  to  do  so  and  after  getting  home. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDOK. 

No  man  had  better  take  up  this  story  unless  he  mastered  Lincoln. 
I  would  say  to  all :  Go  slow. 


Private 

Springfield,  Itt.9  September  £H9  1887. 
Mr.  Bartlett: 

I  have  been  under  the  weather  for  some  two  weeks  or  I  would  have 
written  to  you  in  answer  to  your  last.  Nothing  new  has  happened  and 
no  new  views  formed  about  Lincoln  physically  or  intellectually.  I 
stick  to  my  opinions  expressed  to  you.  I  will  tell  you  a  secret  about 
Lincoln  which  must  be  kept  private.  I  tell  you  the  secret  because  it 
lets  light  into  Lincoln*  Mr.  Lincoln's  mother,  Nancy  Hanks,  was  tibe 
illegitimate  child  of  a  Virginia  planter,  and  right  here  it  was  that 
Lincoln  got  his  mind ;  it  never  came  out  a  Hanks  in  this  world.  The 
Hankses  are  the  lowest  people  in  the  world,  if  we  may  judge  of  them 


204 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


by  their  history  of  1790-1814.  It  is  held  by  some  that  Abraham 
Lincoln  is  the  illegitimate  child  of  one  Enloe,  but  I  do  not  think  that 
they  are  borne  out  by  good  and  sufficient  evidence.  I  simply  state  these 
facts  or  supposed  facts  to  you  in  order  that  you  may  understand  the 
origin  of  things  and  by  knowing  the  origin  you  may  infer  much,  if 
you  will  carry  it  out.  Lincoln  knew  all  these  facts  or  supposed  facts 
and  hence  in  part  his  sadness ;  his  domestic  life  was  a  hell,  a  burning, 
scorching  hell  in  the  domestic  world  and  hence  an  increased  sadness 
and  gloom.  There  flitted  before  this  great  man  an  apparition,  an 
idea  that  he  was  to  meet  with  some  terrible  end.  Now  when  you  look  at 
these  things  and  know  the  peculiarities  of  his  physical  organization, 
you  will  not  be  surprised  at  Lincoln's  sadness,  gloom,  and  melancholy. 
This  terribly  reticent,  secretive,  shutmouth  man  never  talked  much 
about  his  history,  plans,  designs,  purposes,  intents ;  and  when  a  man 
tells  you  this  or  that  about  what  Lincoln  said,  believe  what  you  must 
and  no  more.  Lincoln  had  profound  policies  and  never  revealed  him- 
self to  any  man  or  woman,  and  this  his  nature  caused  the  devil  domesti- 
cally. Lincoln  is  unknown  and  possibly  always  will  be.  Some  time  next 
month,  nothing  happening,  I  will  send  you  your  photos.  I  will  be  glad 
to  see  you  in  Illinois  at  any  time. 

Your  friend, 

W.  EL  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  111.,  September  %5, 1887. 
Friend  Bartlett: 

On  the  22d  inst*  I  wrote  to  you  a  private  and  confidential  letter  in 
which  I  stated  to  you  that  Abraham  Lincoln's  mother,  Nancy  Hanks, 
was  an  illegitimate  child  of  a  Virginia  planter.  I  repeat  what  I  said  to 
you  in  that  letter ;  and  there  is  no  doubt  of  the  fact.  Mr.  Lincoln  told 
me  the  fact,  and  the  record  of  the  woman  bears  out  her  son's  state- 
ment that  she  was  an  illegitimate  child  of  a  Virginia  planter.  Here 
Mrs.  Lincoln  got  her  mind  and  her  blood.  She  was  an  intellectual 
woman  beyond  a  doubt.  Her  son  told  me  so,  and  all  other  persons 
who  knew  the  woman  prove  that  she  was  rather  a  great  woman.  She 
cared  nothing  for  forms,  etiquette,  customs,  etc.,  etc.,  but  burst 
through  them  without  a  care  for  consequences ;  she  was  a  social  crea*- 
tore,  very  much  so,  loved  the  company  of  men  more  than  women,  and 


LETTERS    I1  BOM     HEENPOU  205 

by  her  peculiar  nature  she  got  up  a  bad  reputation ;  and  because  she 
had  a  bad  reputation  it  was,  it  is  still,  charged  that  Abraham  Lincoln 
is  the  child  of  one  Enloe.  My  own  opinion,  after  a  searching  examina- 
tion, is  that  Mrs.  Lincoln,  Nancy  Hanks,  was  not  a  bad  woman,  was 
by  nature  a  noble  woman,  free,  easy,  and  unsuspecting.  My  own 
opinion  after  a  sweeping  and  searching  examination,  investigation, 
is  that  Abraham  Lincoln  was  the  child  and  heir  of  Thomas  Lincoln 
and  Nancy  Hanks  Lincoln.  I  admit  that  all  things  are  not  perfectly 
clear  to  me ;  and  yet  I  think  that  the  weight  of  the  testimony  is  in  my 
favor  on  both  of  these  grounds.  Old  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's 
father,  was  castrated,  fixed,  cut,  but  no  one  can  fix  the  exact  time  of 
the  loss  of  his  manhood.  That  event  being  uncertain,  lets  in  the  pre- 
sumptions of  chastity,  virtue,  and  heirship,  and  on  these  hangs  the 
weight  of  testimony  alone.  This  is  pretty  close  rubbing,  is  it  not?  I 
will  write  to  you  again  and  close  up  this  subject  forever,  I  hope.  Now 
I  want  to  ask  you  a  question  and  it  is  this :  Shall  I  tell  out  the  whole 
story  and  argue  things  out  as  I  see  it? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENBON. 
It  will  take  an  exhaustive  argument* 


Private 

Springfield,  IU.,  September  SO,  1887. 
Friend  Bartlett: 

I  wrote  to  you  two  letters  dated  about  the  22d  and  26th  mst.  and 
[in]  the  first  of  which  I  tried  to  explain  Mrs.  Nancy  Hanks  Lincoln's 
parentage,  etc.  In  the  one  of  the  26th  I  tried  to  explain  the  paternity 
of  Abraham  Lincoln.  Now  I  wish  to  explain  the  facts  somewhat  of 
Lincoln's  origin,  the  doubt  of  it,  etc.  It  is  said  to  me  that  Thomas 
Lincoln,  Abraham's  father,  was  castrated  and  there  is  not  much  doubt 
of  it,  but  the  material  question  is:  When  was  he  castrated?  Nancy 
Hanks,  Abraham's  mother,  married  Thomas  Lincoln  when  she  was 
about  twenty-two  years  of  age.  She  had  three  children  by  Thomas 
Lincoln — at  least  the  three  children  were  born  when  or  after  Thomas 
and  Nancy  were  married.  If  she  had  been  a  bad  woman,  why  did  she 
have  children  before  marriage?  The  first  child,  Sarah,  was  born 


206  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

in  eight  months  less  two  days  after  the  marriage  and  lived  and  married. 
Abraham  was  born  in  two  years  thereafter,  after  Sarah,  and  Thomas 
two  years  thereafter  .  .  .  making  six  years  from  the  marriage.  She, 
Nancy,  ceased  to  have  children  in,  say,  1812.  (There  is  no  proof  of 
the  exact  time.)  She,  Nancy,  was  in  the  vigor  and  prime  of  life  when 
she  ceased  to  breed,  and  why  did  she  cease  thus  to  bear  children? 
Because  Thomas  was  castrated.  Mrs.  Nancy  Hanks  Lincoln,  Abra- 
ham's mother,  died  in  1816 ;  she  had  no  children  from  1812  to  1816, 
and  why?  Because  her  husband  lost  his  manhood  and  because  she  was 
a  virtuous  woman.  Had  she  bred  right  along,  Thomas  being  castrated, 
then  she  would  have  let  a  stray  bull  in  the  pasture.  Thomas  Lincoln 
married  a  Mrs.  Johnston.  She  had  three  children  by  her  first  husband 
Johnston.  Her  first  husband  died  about  1817  and  then  [she],  too,  in 
the  vigor  and  the  prime  of  life,  had  no  more  children  by  Thomas 
Lincoln,  because  he  was  cut,  fixed,  castrated.  If  the  time  of  Lincoln's 
castration  was  before  marriage,  then  Abraham  is  the  illegitimate 
child  of  someone,  but,  if  after  Thomas,  her  youngest  son,  then  Abra- 
ham was  got  in  lawful  wedlock.  Under  this  state  of  facts,  do  you  not 
see  the  importance  of  presumptions?  The  law  conclusively  presumes 
that  all  persons  born  in  lawful  wedlock  shall  be  presumed  to  be  the  law- 
ful child  and  heir  of  the  husband  and  the  wife  unless  it  should  be  con- 
clusively proved  that  the  marriage  was  incapable  of  procreation  by 
nature  or  accident.  No  one  now  living  can  fix  the  time  when  Thomas 
Lincoln  was  castrated.  The  presumption  of  law  saves  Abraham's 
paternity.  This  is  close  shaving  on  so  important  a  subject. 

In  addition  to  the  above  there  appear  to  have  been  two  Nancy 
Hankses — one  the  mother  of  Abraham  and  the  other  the  mother  of 
Dennis  Hanks,  a  bastard,  and  illegitimate.  Now  at  this  late  date,  when 
men  say  that  they  had  connection  with  Abraham's  mother,  can  there 
not  be  a  mistake  in  the  identity  of  persons?  It  appears  in  evidence 
before  me  that  a  Mr.  Haycraf t  wrote,  in  1860  or  1861,  to  Mr.  Lincoln 
asking  him  some  question  about  himself,  Abraham.  It  appears,  it  is  a 
fact,  because  I  have  copies  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  letters  to  Haycraf  t,  that 
Abraham  Lincoln  replied,  in  answer  to  a  question  about  his  own  mother 
and  himself :  "In  the  main  you  are  right  about  my  history.  My  father 
was  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Sally  Johnston  was  his  second  wife.  You 
are  mistaken  about  my  mother ;  her  maiden  name  was  Nancy  Hanks.** 
This  is  all  that  Lincoln  said  in  the  Haycraft  letter.  Intelligent  men 


LETTERS  FROM  HERHPON  207 

do  say  that  they  did  know  the  difference  between  the  two  Nancys  and 
so  the  matter  stands.  It,  however,  gets  back  to  the  question  of  castra- 
tion. If  Thomas  Lincoln  was  castrated  before  he  married  Nancy,  then 
the  fact  is  or  was  that  Nancy  Hanks,  Abraham's  mother,  was  a  bad 
woman,  but  no  one  fixes  the  exact  date  of  the  sad  fact.  Now  you  must 
presume  that  every  grown  man  has  the  power  of  procreation  and  you 
shall  presume  that  all  children  born  in  lawful  wedlock  are  legitimate, 
unless  you  can  prove  that  the  pair  had  no  earthly  opportunity  of 
access,  or  that  the  man  was  by  nature  or  by  accident  deprived  of  his 
manhood. 

I  promised  you,  near  the  beginning  of  our  correspondence,  that  I 
would  reveal  to  you  some  things.  I  have  done  as  I  promised  and  so  you 
will  have  to  judge  for  yourself.  I  am  satisfied  that  Abraham  Lincoln 
was  the  lawful  child  of  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Hanks  and  that 
she  was  a  virtuous  woman.  I  hope  that  you  can  read  my  letters,  hastily 
written  as  you  must  know. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H,  HERNDOST. 

Please  keep  these  three  letters  till  you  go  hence  and  then  hand  them 
down  as  drafts  of  legitimacy  and  virtue.  H. 


Springfield,  JZZ.,  October  1887. 
Friend  Bartlett : 

Your  letter,  dated  the  30th  uLt.y  was  handed  to  me  a  day  or  so 
since.  Yes,  Mr.  Butler  is  correct  in  saying  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  East 
in  1849,  not  '40.  On  the  adjournment  of  Congress,  the  30th,  he  passed 
through  some  of  the  New  England  States,  making  some  speeches  for 
Taylor  as  I  remember  It.  I  do  not  think  that  Lincoln  was  in  New  Eng- 
land in  1840,  have  no  recollection  of  it,  do  recollect  the  one  in 
1849.  .  .  . 

My  book  will  be  ready  for  the  press,  say  in  December  or  January 
next.  I  am  bothered  a  great  deal  how  to  act  in  the  matter.  I  thank  you 
for  your  suggestions.  You  are  correct  in  saying  that  the  whole  truth 
should  be  told  of  most  men  and  yet  it  would  not  do  for  Lincoln.  Lincoln 
is  still  going  up,  the  growing  great  ideal  man.  I  know  a  good  deal  about 
Lincoln — more  than  I  dare  state  in  a  book.  I  watched  the  man  closely 
for  thirty  years,  twenty  of  which  were  just  across  the  table  10  x  8 


208  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

feet.  I  was  his  friend,  a  fast  one,  an  unswerving  one,  and  he  knew  it. 
I  was  from  '34*  to  1865  for  Lincoln  against  the  world,  saw  in  him  a 
great  man,  a  man  of  destiny,  took  notes,  etc.,  etc.  Lincoln  to  the  world 
is  a  profound  mystery,  an  enigma,  a  sphinx,  a  riddle,  and  yet  I  think 
that  I  knew  the  man.  He  was  uncommunicative,  silent,  reticent,  secre- 
tive, having  profound  policies,  and  well-laid,  deeply  studied  plans.  He 
moved  men  at  pleasure  and  for  his  own  ends.  He  was  a  remorseless 
trimmer  with  men.  They  were  his  tools,  and  when  they  were  used  up,  he 
threw  them  aside  as  old  iron  and  took  up  new  tools.  On  principles  he 
was  as  true  as  steel,  and  while  I  say  all  this,  his  ends  were  his  country's 
and  man's. 

You  are  correct  again  when  you  say  that  the  noblest  of  women  can 
lose  their  character  quickly  in  a  little  village  or  in  a  new  and  sparsely 
settled  country.  Everybody  knows  everybody,  and  any  man's  business 
is  the  business  of  the  whole  community.  Such  people  love  to  tattle  and 
to  lie  about  one  another.  They  have  nothing  to  do  but  to  tattle  and  to 
lie  in  small  things.  In  cities  no  man's  business  is  his  neighbor's,  and  so 
each  man  and  woman  attends  to  his  or  her  business  and  goes  on  unno- 
ticed and  uncriticized,  but  woe  to  the  woman  in  a  little  village  if  she 
makes  a  false  step.  One  more  word  about  Thomas  Lincoln,  Nancy 
Hanks,  and  Abraham  Enloe.  Thomas  Lincoln  caught  Enloe  at  his 
house  under  suspicious  circumstances,  etc.  Lincoln  and  Enloe  had  a 
fight  about  it,  and  Lincoln  bit  off  Enloe's  nose.  Possibly  Thomas  Lin- 
coln left  Kentucky  to  get  rid  of  the  devil.  Nancy  Hanks  was  as  far 
above  Thomas  Lincoln  as  an  angel  is  above  mud.  It  is  said  that  she 
didn't  care  anything  for  Thomas,  and  now  let  me  conclude  this  reveal- 
ing letter  by  saying  to  you  that  Nancy  Hanks  was  a  great  noble 
woman ;  a  woman  of  a  very  fine  cast  of  mind ;  was  a  broad-minded, 
literal,  generous-hearted,  quickly  sympathetic  woman ;  a  woman  far 
above  her  surroundings,  meditative,  introspective,  sad,  daring,  fear- 
less, and  in  some  cases  indiscreet.  Lincoln  himself  told  me  much  of  this 
description  of  his  mother.  I  know  it  by  what  her  neighbors  say  of  her 
and  with  which  neighbors  I  have  talked. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

Enloe  was  a  kind  of  genius,  a  rogue,  a  rake,  a  libertine,  a  man  of 
force  and  of  mind,  a  brokendown  genius. 


LETTERS    PEOM    HEBNDON  209 

Since  writing  the  above  I  received  your  kind  letter  dated  the  22d 
.  and  for  which  I  sincerely  thank  you.  I  wish  greatly  to  be  under- 
stood by  all  men.  I  have  often  said  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  an  infidel  and 
I  say  it  now.  In  1835-36  Mr.  Lincoln  in  the  village  of  New  Salem 
wrote  a  little  book  on  Infidelity.  In  that  little  work,  burnt  up  by  a 
friend,  Mr.  Hill,  Lincoln  denied  the  miraculous  conception  of  Christ, 
ridiculed  the  Trinity,  and  denied  that  the  Bible  was  the  divine  special 
revelation  of  God.  Here  are  facts,  well-settled  facts.  Now  what  is  an 
infidel?  As  the  infidels  use  the  word,  it  means  those  who  deny  that  the 
Bible  is  the  divine  special  revelation  of  God.  If  you  will  turn  to  Wor- 
cester's dictionary,  you  will  find  that  that  is  the  meaning  of  the  word. 
Whether  this  is  so  or  not,  the  infidel  has  the  right  to  define  himself  and 
the  terms  which  he  uses.  Lincoln  was  a  deist  if  that  word  suits,  fits,  the 
case  better.  I  well  know  that  all  this  is  no  evidence  of  a  want  of  religion 
in  Mr.  Lincoln.  It  is  rather  an  evidence  that  he  had  his  own  religion. 
I  have  said  for  more  than  twenty  years  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  thor- 
oughly religious  man,  a  man  of  exalted  notions  of  right,  justice,  duty, 
etc.,  etc.  Lincoln's  religion  was  of  the  grandest  and  noblest  type,  kind. 
But  when  Mr.  Bowditch  says  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  an  infidel,  I  am 
at  a  loss  to  know  what  an  infidel  is.  Lincoln  was  a  strong  believer  in  an 
overruling  Providence,  no  man  more  so.  He  had  a  grand  belief  here. 
Am  I  understood,  friend?  Rest  assured,  Mr.  Bartlett,  that  no  theories 
go  in  my  book ;  fact,  science,  if  I  can  catch  it,  only  will  be  mentioned  in 
the  Life.  Facts,  facts,  facts,  shall  be  my  guide.  The  Eastern  people, 
bless  5em  too,  must  give  us  poor  devils  of  the  great  West  some  little 
credit  for  common  sense  and  the  practical*  We  pride  ourselves  on  the 
useful  and  the  practical.  We  are  a  people  who  have  not  a  great  pride 
in  mental  speculation  nor  in  theories.  Write  us  down  "practicals." 

Your  friend, 

W*  H*  HEBNDON. 

I  judge  that  Mr,  B.  uses  the  word  infidel  as  synonymous  with  athe- 
ism, which  he  is  not  warranted  in  doing.  Excuse  me*    H. 


Section  Five 


Springfield,  III.,  October  $$9  1887. 
Friend  Weik: 

On  last  Saturday  I  received  your  good  long  letter,  dated  the  10th 
inst.9  giving  me  much  information,  "much  ideas."  I  guess  that  we  had 
better  bow  to  the  semi-omnipotence  of  public  opinion  and  bend  to  the 
inevitable  with  grace  and  as  much  dignity  as  we  can  reserve.  I  do  not 
see  the  use  of  fighting  the  unavoidable  and  losing  what  we  have  a  chance 
of  getting.  We  can  tell  all  necessary  truths,  all  those  truths  which  are 
necessary  to  show  Lincoln's  nature,  etc.,  characteristics,  etc.  We  need 
not,  nor  must  we,  lie.  Let  us  be  true  as  far  as  we  do  go,  but  by  all 
means  let  us  with  grace  bow  to  the  inevitable.  If  the  people  will  not 
take  the  truth — "God's  naked  truth" — let  the  crime  rest  on  them  and 
not  on  our  heads.  Talk  to  me  of  the  progress  of  this  age !  Sugarcoat  a 
lie  and  it  goes  down  sweetly.  The  mass  of  men  vomit  at  the  truth  unless 
it  is  sweetened  with  the  lie.  Falsehood  is  worshiped  and  the  truth  cru- 
cified :  it  always  has  been  so  and  always  will  be  so.  I  say  bow  down  to 
the  inevitable. 

I  am  glad  to  know  that  you  were  in  Chicago  feeling  your  way,  glad 
that  Whitney  was  kind  to  you  and  did  all  he  could  for  us.  I  agree  with 
him  that  New  York  or  Boston  is  the  place  for  our  contemplated  book. 
I  think  Swett  can  do  us  good  with  Griggs,  etc.  When  the  MSS  are  done, 
I'll  go  to  Chicago  if  I  can.  You  and  I  will  have  to  meet  here,  say  for  a 
month,  and  fix  up  things,  understand  one  another  as  to  what  things 
shall  be  said  and  how  and  when  said.  When  and  where  shall  we  meet? 
I  have  written  nothing  as  yet  except  a  little  on  Lincoln's  civil  policy 
and  will  not  till  you  and  I  see  each  other  and  well  understand  things. 
To  write  anything  now  would  be  folly.  Bow  to  the  inevitable  with  grace. 

I  received  the  Preface  and  first  chapter — have  read  them — are  very 
good,  but  the  first  chapter  will  have  to  be  changed,  rewritten,  modified, 
gutted.  "Make  things  straight  and  rosy."  Success  is  what  we  want. 
We  want  no  failures.  Do  what  is  necessary  to  gain  that  end,  short  of 
lying,  or  fraud.  Please  Lincoln's  friends,  the  publishers,  and  all  man- 
kind, past,  present,  and  the  future.  Go  to  any  necessary  expense  in 
getting  a  typewriter.  Now  you  have  my  views  in  full. 

I  have  tried  to  see  Doctor  Jayne,  but  he  has  been  in  Chicago ;  saw 

210 


Leonard  Swett 


Horace  White 
Collection  of  Frederick  II.  He  serve 


David  Davis 


Norman  B.  Judd 
Collection  of  Harry  MacXeill  Bland 

POLITICAL  ADVISERS  OF  LINCOLN 


John  T.  Stuart 


Stephen  T.  Logan 


Joshua  F.  Speed  James  H.  Matheny 

Collection  of  Herbert  Wells  Fay 

LINCOLN'S  LAW  PARTNERS  AND  EARLY  FRIENDS 


LETTEKS  FEOM  HEBNBOK  211 

Matheny,  but  failed  to  get  his  photo,  promised  it;  will  send  J.  C. 
Conkling's  photo  and  Ben  Edwards's  if  I  can  get  it. 

I  saw  Susan  Talbott,  Lincoln's  sweetheart  as  said;  she  says  that 
Lincoln  never  courted  her  to  the  end  of  a  proposal ;  have  written  two 
letters  to  Sarah,  but  I  fear  that  she  will  not  blab.  Mrs.  Talbott  inti- 
mated to  me  that  Sarah  would  not  blab,  if  L.  courted  her.  It  is  evident 
that  Lincoln  and  the  girls  were  warm  friends,  if  nothing  more.  I  saw 
Brown ;  he  says  that  Melvin  has  Lincoln's  lectures ;  saw  Mr.  Grimsley, 
the  son  of  Mrs.  Brown,  who  says  that  his  mother  never  had  a  lecture  of 
Lincoln's.  I  have  written  to  Melvin  twice,  but  he  has  not  answered.  I 
am  doing  all  I  can  to  further  things  along  and  will  to  the  end,  am  try- 
ing to  please  the  world  and  all  mankind  and  womankind  too,  bless  'em. 
By  all  means  bow  to  the  inevitable  and  do  the  best  that  you  can  under 
all  circumstances. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


Springfield,  Itt.,  January  £7,  1888. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  conscientious  conservative ;  he  believed  in  Law 
and  Order.  See  his  speech  before  the  Springfield  Lyceum  in  1838 ;  the 
essence  of  that  speech  was  obedience  to  and  respect  for  law.  The  burn- 
ing of  a  Negro  by  a  mob  in  St.  Louis  was  the  cause,  the  text  rather,  of 
that  speech,  the  occasion  of  it,  etc.  Lincoln  too  was  absolutely  con- 
servative. See  his  speech  in  Congress  made  June  1848.  The  talk  in  part 
of  that  speech  was  suggested  by  some  remarks  of  someone  about 
amendments  to  the  Constitution ;  he  says :  "No  slight  occasion  should 
tempt  us  to  touch  it  (the  Constitution).  Better  not  take  the  first  step, 
which  may  lead  to  a  habit  of  altering  it.  Better  rather  habituate  our- 
selves to  think  of  it  as  unalterable.  It  can  scarcely  be  made  better 
than  it  is.  New  provisions  would  introduce  new  difficulties  and  thus 
create  and  increase  appetites  for  further  change.'*  Here  is  a  kind  of 
blind  worship  of  old  things,  etc.,  by  Lincoln,  and  this  is  in  conformity 
as  I  know  of  his  general  nature,  (See  Barrett's  Life  of  Lincoln,  page 
98.)  If  you  wish  to  talk  of  L.'s  conservatism,  here  is  a  splendid  chance. 
Make  a  note  and  write  a  page  on  L.'s  staid  and  absolute  conservatism. 

Again,  if  you  write  a  chapter  on  the  war  and  the  lost  cause  and  Jeff 


212  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Davis,  trying  to  arouse  his  fellow-conspirators  to  a  further  struggle, 
etc.,  etc.,  quote  Milton's  speech  put  in  the  mouth  of  the  superior  fiend, 
Satan,  "he  called  so  loud  that  all  the  hollow  deep  of  Hell  resounded." 
It,  the  speech,  runs  thus :  "Princes,  potentates,  warriors,  the  flower  of 
heaven  once  jours,  etc."  This  is  a  fine  thing  to  insert  in  our  book.  First 
draw  a  picture  of  the  rebellion,  the  conspirators,  Confederate  army, 
the  warring  cause,  the  lost  cause,  etc.,  etc.,  then  quote  the  whole  speech, 
etc.  Draw  it  out  finely.  Put  the  speech  in  Jeff  Davis's  mouth.  Here  then 
are  two  good  ideas  which  you  can  elaborate  and  make  a  fine  paragraph 
or  two.  .  .  . 

While  Mr.  Lincoln  and  I  were  partners,  we  kept  no  books  as  to  our 
partnership,  though  we  did,  for  a  while,  as  to  others.  Mr.  Lincoln  did 
most  of  the  circuit  court  business  while  I  stayed  at  the  office.  Some- 
times I  went  on  the  circuit  and,  if  I  were  with  Lincoln  around  in  the 
counties,  all  the  money  collected  by  us  was  instantly  divided.  If  I  were 
not  on  the  circuit,  was  at  the  office  attending  to  our  affairs  at  home, 
Lincoln  would  collect  monies  due  us  and  our  fees  on  the  circuit  and  di- 
vide it,  putting  his  half  in  his  pocketbook  and  using  it  as  he  wanted  to ; 
he  would  wrap  my  half  up  in  a  roll,  putting  my  name  on  a  slip  of  paper 
and  then  wrapping  it,  the  slip,  around  the  roll  of  money  and  then  put- 
ting it  in  his  pocketbook  and  when  he  came  home  he  would  come  to  the 
office  and  hand  me  my  money ;  he  did  this  always  and  at  last  it  so  ex- 
cited my  curiosity  that  I  asked  him  this  question :  "Why,  Lincoln,  are 
you  so  particular  in  this  matter  ?'*  and  to  which  he  instantly  replied : 
"Well,  Billy,  I  do  it  for  various  reasons :  first,  unless  I  did  as  I  do  I 
might  forget  that  I  collected  money  or  had  money  belonging  to  you ; 
secondly,  I  explain  to  you  how  and  from  whom  I  got  it  so  that  you  have 
not  to  dun  the  men  who  paid ;  thirdly,  if  I  were  to  die  you  would  have 
no  evidence  that  I  had  your  money  and  you  could  not  prove  that  I  had 
it.  By  marking  the  money  it  becomes  yours  and  I  have  not  in  law  or 
morality  a  right  to  use  it.  I  make  it  a  practice  never  to  use  any  man's 
money  without  his  consent  first  obtained.  So  you  see  why  I  pursue  this 
course  and  now  what  do  you  think  of  this  method  with  reasons  ?"  and 
to  which  I  replied :  "It  is  all  right,  Mr.  Lincoln,  but  so  far  as  I  am 
concerned,  you  need  not  be  so  particular.  I  know  it's  all  right  anyway 
with  you.n 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 


LETTERS    FEOM    HE END ON  213 

Springfield,  III,  June  13, 1888. 
Friend  Weik: 

When  you  were  here  reading  over  the  Lincoln  MS  my  mind  was 
exclusively  engaged  on  the  thread  of  the  Lincoln  story,  on  facts  as- 
serted and  not  on  what  was  omitted.  I  was  watching  the  story  of  L.'s 
life,  and  I  now  say  that  it  was,  is,  admirably  told.  But  there  are  some 
things  omitted  that  I  think  should  go  in.  In  the  chapter  on  the  war  I 
once  gave  you  Jeff  Davis's  idea  of  this  Union.  I  quoted  a  book  in  your 
office,  Davis's  works.  I  at  the  same  time  gave  you  Lincoln's  idea  of  this 
Union  and  secession.  I  referred  to  Lincoln's  first  inaugural,  first  part 
of  it,  for  his  idea  and  to  Davis's  works  for  his  idea.  The  issue  in  the 
two  books  is  stated  sharply,  between  Lincoln  and  Davis.  See  my  piece 
and  the  works  referred  to.  Now  I  humbly  think  that  this  issue  should 
be  fully  stated.  Slavery  was  at  the  bottom,  I  know,  and  yet  could  any 
State  voluntarily  go  out  of  the  Union  and  dissolve  its  relation  to  all 
the  States,  the  National  Union?  Was  the  Union  made  by  the  whole 
people  of  the  United  States  or  by  the  States  AS  STATES?  Was  it  a  Na- 
tional Union  perpetual  or  a  partnership  between  the  States  subject  to 
be  dissolved  lawfully,  as  it  were  a  commercial  firm?  I  think  that  this 
should  be  stated  and  explained.  Secondly,  I  regret  that  my  descrip- 
tion of  the  pioneer  was  not  inserted  in  the  MS.  Thirdly,  I  would  sug- 
gest that  Lincoln's  ideas  of  filling  up  the  mouth  of  the  Sangamon  River 
be  explained  truly  and  more  fully.  In  speaking  of  Mr.  Lincoln  as  law- 
yer I  sent  you  some  time  since  a  conversation  between  Colonel  King 
and  Lincoln  on  how  to  decide  a  law  case  when  one  was  brought  before 
King,  who  was  a  justice  of  the  peace.  See  MS  how  Lincoln  acted  when 
he  tried  a  case,  etc.  This  story  is  a  good  one  and  explains  that  Lincoln 
struck  for  what  he  thought  was  positive  and  gained  his  cases  mostly 
that  way.  By  no  means  call  the  pioneers  around  New  Salem  ruffians, 
because  it  would  be  a  lie.  No  better  people  ever  lived  than  they ;  they 
were  brave,  generous,  hospitable,  a  wild  and  an  uncultured  people. 
Radford,  whose  store  was  sacked,  was  a  vile  slanderer  and  I  suppose  he 
slandered  the  men  or  women.  Radford  was  a  vile,  blustering,  crazy 
fool.  I  knew  Radford  and  his  wife,  and  good  Lord  deliver  me  from  such 
a  couple.  If  we  could  get  at  the  bottom  of  the  story,  I  guess  that  the 
people  were  more  than  half  right.  Possibly  the  people  did  not  want 
sudh  a  couple  with  attendants,  etc.,  in  the  neighborhood.  The  sons  and 


214  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

daughters  of  these  old  pioneers  are  some  of  the  best  people  in  Menard 
County. 

If  my  lectures  on  Lincoln  are  to  form  an  addendum,  a  note  at  the  end 
of  the  book,  why  not  let  them  go  in  as  I  have  written  them,  you  correct- 
ing any  and  all  mistakes  of  language,  etc.?  The  printed  slip  pinned 
to  the  piece  and  written  by  me  in  your  city  was  a  part  of  the  two 
lectures  and  delivered  at  the  same  time,  including  what  Holland  said 
of  Lincoln. 

What  is  herein  said  is  good-naturedly  and  suggestively  said.  I  will 
write  more  as  my  ideas  come  up  one  after  another.  Possibly  we  had 
better  see  one  another  again  before  you  go  East  with  our  book,  etc. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

P.S.     Am  busy  replanting  corn,  got  no  good  ink,  hand  trembles, 
etc.     H. 

Spring-field,  IU.9  July  10, 1888. 
Friend  Weik : 

First  Mr.  Lincoln  would  come  down  to  the  office  about  8  a.m.,  some- 
times in  a  good-natured,  cheerful  mood,  speak  pleasantly,  tell  a  good 
story,  and  thus  he  would  continue  till  twelve  o'clock ;  about  2  p.m.  he 
would  return  to  the  office,  on  the  same  day,  in  a  sad,  terribly  gloomy 
state,  pick  up  a  pen,  sit  down  by  the  table,  and  write  a  moment  or  two, 
and  then  become  abstracted  and  wholly  absorbed  on  some  question ;  he 
would  often  put  his  left  elbow  on  the  table  in  his  abstracted  moods, 
resting  his  chin  in  the  palm  of  his  left  hand.  I  have  often  watched  Mr. 
Lincoln  in  this  state  while  he  was  lost  in  the  world  of  his  thoughts, 
gazing  in  the  distance.  In  this  condition  of  things  neither  he  nor  I 
would  speak.  Occasionally  I  did  ask  him  a  question  in  his  moods  but  he 
would  not  answer,  probably  for  thirty  minutes.  In  the  meantime,  I 
would  quite  forget  that  I  had  asked  a  question.  To  my  surprise,  say  in 
thirty  minutes,  he  would  answer  my  question  freely  and  accurately. 
He  had  pushed  my  question  aside  for  the  time  being.  Mr.  Lincoln,  in 
his  abstractions  or  in  his  misery,  seemed  to  me  to  be  a  little  off,  so  odd 
was  he,  and  yet  I  know  that  for  the  time  being  he  was  in  the  lone  land 
of  his  greatest  thoughts.  It  has  been  said  of  Mr.  Lincoln  that  he  was  a 
many-sided  man  and,  if  he  was,  he  certainly  was  a  many-mo  oded  man. 
I  can  see  Lincoln  now  in  my  mind  looking  sad  and  grim,  sitting  at  our 


X.ETTEKS     FEOM     HEBNDON  215 

table,  pen  in  hand,  while  his  chin  rested  in  the  palm  of  his  left  hand, 
his  elbow  resting  on  the  table,  he  gazing  in  the  distance  all  the  while. 
There  is  a  sad  picture  for  you  truly,  and  you  can  write  it  out  to  suit 
yourself.  It  is  a  correct  and  a  true  picture. 

Secondly,  I  was  deputy  clerk  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State  of 
Illinois  and  had  some  peculiar  advantages  to  hear  and  to  see.  Mr. 
Lincoln  would  come  down  from  his  home  to  the  Supreme  Courtroom 
about  seven  or  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening.  The  lawyers — Browning, 
Logan,  Bushnell,  and  other  lawyers — were  studying  their  cases  and 
making  abstracts  and  briefs,  etc.  Lincoln  would  come  into  the  room 
in  a  good  humor,  in  one  of  his  best  moods,  speak  kindly  and  pleasantly 
to  all,  and  say :  "You  men  sitting  here  so  mum  puts  me  in  mind  of  a 
story."  The  lawyers  would  say:  "What  is  the  story,  Lincoln?  Come, 
tell  it,"  and  tell  it  he  would,  and  that  story  would  suggest  another, 
and  so  he  would  break  up  all  reading,  abstract,  and  brief  business ;  he 
would  keep  on  till  twelve  or  one  o'clock  in  the  night. 

Thirdly,  I  have  seen  him  break  up,  as  it  were,  social  parties,  gather- 
ings, etc.,  at  dances,  etc.,  etc.,  as  I  have  often  told  you ;  he  would  anno j 
the  women  dancers,  because  the  men  dancers  would  stop  in  the  dance 
to  hear  the  story.  Bear  all  these  little  incidents  in  your  mind ;  it  is  these 
things  that  please  the  reader.  Just  think  of  a  merry  dance  going  on 
with  music,  women,  and  wine,  and  "Old  Abe"  in  the  corner  of  the 
dancing  hall  with  his  eight  or  ten  chuins  around  him  telling  one  of  his 
best,  jv&t  loud  enough  for  the  ladies  to  hear,  and  you  have  a  picture 
of  the  reality  which  I  have  seen  more  than  once.  "Old  Abe**  would  en- 
joy to  the  ends  of  his  toenails  his  social  cruelty.  You  could  see  that 
it  did  him  good  all  over.  Lincoln  would  have  his  fun,  cost  what  it 
might.  .  ,  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 

These  little  things  are  the  charm  of  the  life  of  the  great. 

I  have  told  you  some  of  these  things  before  this,  but  I  want  you  to  be 
sure  and  remember  'em. 

Spring-field,  7ZL,  August  IS,  1888. 
Friend  Weik: 

Your  letters  about  the  contract,  etc.,  are  at  hand*  I  sent  yon  the 
new  power  of  attorney  and  hope  It  is  broad  enough  to  cover  our  pur> 


216  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

poses.  You  state,  Jesse,  your  case  admirably  well,  "lawyer  like.55  I 
have  no  statement  to  make,  deeming  it  wise  to  say  nothing  on  what  I 
have  done  for  over  twenty-five  years.  It  has  always  been  my  purpose  to 
give  you  the  Lincoln  records,  letters,  evidences,  etc.,  under  conditions. 
Jesse,  after  our  book  is  out  and  when  I  hear  a  statement  of  your  case 
accounts,  etc.,  I  will  do  what  is  fair,  honest,  just,  between  man  and 
man.  I  think  I  am  a  reasonable  creature  and  easy  to  deal  with.  I  think 
you  can  risk  my  word  on  the  question  of  justice,  right,  and  equity.  So 
let  the  thing  rest  till  the  book,  which  we  are  writing,  is  out  and  we 
know  the  facts  throughout  and  thoroughly.  I  admit  that  you  have  been 
kind  and  clever  to  me,  and  this  I  willingly  and  gladly  confess  to  you. 
You  have  done  much  work  and  spent  much  money  in  and  about  our 
endeavor,  book.  I  hope  that  our  book  will  compensate  both  of  us  when 
out  and  some  or  all  sold.  I  regret  to  hear  that  you  are  "sorter  blue," 
but  glad  to  hear  that  you  are  desperate,  i.e.,  determined,  to  push 
things  to  the  end.  I  sincerely  regret  to  hear  about  so  many  obstacles 
thrown  in  our  way  and  which  have  to  be  removed.  Every  enterprise  in 
this  world  has  its  obstacles  and  greatness  comes  to  men  out  of  the 
struggle.  You  will  find  competition  and  opposition  to  all  worthy  en- 
deavors, but  to  beat  down  competition  and  crush  opposition  is  the 
province  [?]  of  a  persistent  and  determined  man.  You  have  my  best 
wishes  for  your  success,  entire  and  complete  success.  I  shall  continue  to 
send  you  well-authenticated  Lincoln  facts  when  I  hear  of  them.  I  am 
making  inquiries  every  day  almost  for  new  facts  about  Lincoln,  and 
when  good  and  true  I'll  send  to  you.  How  do  you  like  Sarah's  letter? 
That  letter  opens  a  field  for  speculation ;  therefore  will  you  please  look 
up  Speed's  letter  to  Lincoln,  or  Lincoln's  to  Speed,  in  which  Speed  or 
Lincoln  use  the  word  Sarah? — Speed  told  me  to  erase  the  word  Sarah, 
if  he  had  not,  in  Speed's  communications  to  me — and  when  found  please 
give  me  the  exact  date  of  that  letter.  Did  not  Speed  say  to  Lincoln 
something  like  this :  "Have  you  seen  Sarah?"?  When  you  get  the  date 
of  the  above,  will  you  please  give  me  the  exact  time  when  Sarah  says 
that  Lincoln  courted  her?  I  kept  no  copies  of  either  of  the  letters.  I 
think  Sarah  said  that  the  time  of  which  she  speaks  was  in  1840-41. 
Please  look,  in  the  third  place,  in  one  of  the  early  numbers  of  the 
Century  and  find  a  letter  from  Lincoln  to  Stuart  in  which  he  uses  the 
words,  "that  fatal  night."  I  think  it  was  on  the  first  day  of  January 
1841,  the  night  when  he  was  to  have  married  Mary  Todd  but  got  crazy 


LETT BBS     PROM     HEEKBON  217 

and  didn't  marry  her.  Give  me  the  exact  date.  It  is  quite  likely  that  Lin- 
coln was  courting  both  women  at  once  or  it  may  be  that  Sarah  refused 
Lincoln  and  that  he  jumped  into  hell  in  mere  desperation,  etc.  I  want 
the  exact  time  when  Lincoln  says  that  he  was  to  have  married  Mary 
Todd  and  had  so  much  gloom,  sadness,  sorrow,  etc.,  etc.  Now,  as  part 
of  the  story,  steps  in  Mrs.  Francis  and  her  conspiracy  in  *42.  You  and 
I  can  unriddle  the  facts,  the  story,  and  make  a  good  chapter.  I  say, 
how  do  you  like  the  Sarah  letter? 

In  one  of  your  letters  you  state  to  me  that  our  MS  is  in  New  York, 
and  in  your  recent  letters  you  state  that  you  have  'em  and  are  rewrit- 
ing, etc.  Has  the  MS  been  returned  with  objections?  If  so,  what  are  the 
objections?  Please  keep  me  well  informed  about  our  business  and  I'll 
pray  for  you.  If  you  can't  succeed  in  our  enterprise  in  New  York,  can 
you  not  go  to  "Bosting"  or  other  city? 

Have  you  accepted  any  of  my  suggestions?  Please  write  to  me  a 
good  long  letter  stating  what  is  what — all  about  things  in  general. 

I  am  just  done  digging  "taters"  and  am  going  to  the  city  on  busi- 
ness. 

Hastily, 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 

I  saw  Judge  Matheny  and  J.  B.  Hines,  prosecuting  attorney  who 
lived  in  the  neighborhood  of  Miss  Wilson,  now  Mrs.  Drennan,  and  both 
say  that  the  story  about  Lincoln  courting  Miss  Wilson  is  false  in  every 
particular. 


Springfield,  Itt.,  September  87, 1888. 
Friend  Weik: 

I  received  your  two  letters  and  lost  one  on  the  streets,  the  one  con- 
taining the  envelopes.  I  read  the  first  and  second  pages  of  our  book 
and  they  read  well,  I  hope  today  on  going  to  the  city  to  find  my  letter 
which  I  somehow  lost  in  my  hurry  to  get  home. 

Enclosed  you  will  find  Governor  Palmer's  photo,  marked  No.  1  on 
the  back  of  the  card.  .  .  .  Judge  B.  S.  Edwards  is  marked  No.  2.  .  .  . 
Butterfield  was  never  a  member  of  the  Sangamon  bar  and  never  ap- 
peared in  it.  Probably  C.  C.  Brown's,  John  E.  Rosette's,  E.  B.  Hem- 
don's,  et  tft,  ought  to  go  in  the  group.  Some  may  feel  offended  in  pass- 


218  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

ing  them  over  unnoticed.  We  want  friends  and  not  enemies.  What  say 
you? 

The  Democrats  here  are  mad  at  Nicolay  and  Hay  for  saying  that 
Douglas  was  a  "shyster."  Douglas  at  the  bar  was  a  broad  liberal- 
minded  gentleman,  a  good  lawyer,  courteous,  was  not  very  well  read 
in  the  law  but  his  great  good  common  sense  carried  him  along  with  the 
best  of  the  bar.  In  law  Douglas  was  generous,  courteous,  fair,  and  as 
I  remember  it,  he  never  stooped  to  gain  his  case.  Douglas  was  anything 
but  a  "shyster."  In  politics  Douglas  did  stoop  a  little  to  conquer 
much,  but  in  law  never.  I  did  not  worship  Douglas  but  am  willing  to 
do  him  justice ;  he  was  naturally  a  great  man,  a  good  lawyer,  a  gentle- 
man, and  a  patriot.  I  have  known  Douglas  since  1837.  We  want 
friends,  and  let  us  speak  ill  of  no  one. 

Hastily, 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

P.S.  When  I  get  proof  sheets,  shall  I  send  back  to  you  or  shall  I 
make  notes  stating  page  and  line  to  be  corrected  ?  I  prefer  this  latter 
course.  H. 


Springfield,  III.,  October  10,  1888. 
Friend  Weik : 

.  .  .  Today  for  the  first  time  I  carefully  read  pages  1,  2,  3  of  our 
book,  the  pages  you  sent  me.  I  make  such  suggestions  as  strike  me: 
first,  erase  the  word  last  as  noted  on  the  paper  or  insert  after  the  word 
scarce?  through  his  mother,  and  this  will  bring  out  what  Lincoln  said; 
he  claimed  that  he  got  his  mind  from  his  mother  as  his  own  declaration 
in  the  slip  shows.  Lincoln  said  that  his  mother  was  by  nature  a  great 
woman,  great-hearted  and  great-headed ;  will  write  you  about  her,  etc., 
etc.,  soon  according  to  my  impressions ;  give  it  now  on  third  and  fourth 
pages.  Secondly,  I  have  used  the  word  then  for  it,  because  we  are 
speaking  of  ancestry  and  origin ;  thirdly,  I  have  used  the  word  he  in 
place  of  they.  Please  send  the  slip  back  to  me.  This  is  the  only  proof 
sheet  that  I  have  seen.  .  .  .  Do  you  want  my  photo  taken  in  1871,  to 
go  among  the  members  of  the  Sangamon  bar?  Put  Lincoln  himself  in 
that  group  too. 

In  Arnold's  Life  of  Lincoln  he  makes  Abraham's  mother  a  tanner  of 


LETTERS     FBOM    HEBNBON  219 

coon  skins,  etc.  This  is  all  nonsense.  Write  to  Chapman  and  get  Dennis 
Hanks's  recollection  of  the  facts  asserted.  Women  in  this  section 
never  did  any  coon  skin  tanning,  nor  tanning  of  any  kind.  Arnold 
makes  Lincoln's  table  groan  with  wild  game,  such  as  venison,  turkey, 
quail,  duck,  fish,  squirrel,  etc.,  etc.  This  is  all  nonsense.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
was  too  avaricious  for  such  things.  She  kept,  as  a  general  thing,  a 
stingy  table.  Sometimes  she  would  give  parties  and  then  it  was  that  she 
flamed  out  in  some  splendor.  Mrs.  Lincoln  kept  or  set  a  poor  table. 
Lincoln  never  invited  his  friends  to  his  general  tables.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
would  give  him  hell  if  L.  did  and  pay  it  down  "right  off"  with  tongue 
and  broomstick. 

Jesse,  in  one  of  my  letters  to  you  I  stated  that  we  wanted  friends, 
defenders,  etc.,  and  to  that  end  let  us  speak  illy  of  no  one.  I  said  some 
hard  things  of  Logan ;  wipe  'em  out.  So  I  said  that  Stuart  pursued  us, 
L.  and  myself ;  wipe  that  out  too.  This  is  the  prudent  course,  is  it  not  ? 

While  I  am  about  it,  let  me  state  to  you  the  impressions  which  Mr. 
Lincoln's  conversations  made  on  me  about  his  mother.  I  took  no  note 
at  the  time  of  what  he  said,  could  not.  I  include  the  impressions  left  on 
me  by  conversations  with  David  Turnham,  old  man  Wood,  Dennis 
Hanks,  the  Grigsbys,  and  some  Kentuckians.  Turnham  and  Mr.  Wood 
were  well  acquainted  with  Mrs.  Lincoln.  In  the  first  place,  Mr.  Lincoln 
told  me  that  his  mother  was  a  kind  of  genius,  a  great-hearted  and  a 
big-headed  woman.  He  further  stated  to  me  that  she  was  over-souled 
with  goodness,  tenderness,  and  sympathy.  Mr.  Wood  verifies  part  of 
this,  so  does  Turnham.  Dennis  Hanks  and  others  say  that  she  was  a 
careless  woman,  careless  of  dress,  show,  or  glitter.  Dennis  Hanks  says 
that  Abraham  and  Sarah  did  not  know  what  cleanliness,  civilization, 
etc.,  were  till  Thomas  Lincoln  married  Mrs.  Johnston.  Abraham's 
mother  despised  forms,  ceremonies,  etiquette,  loved  the  company  of 
men  more  than  women,  because  more  like  herself  m  mind.  Mrs.  Lincoln 
was  a  rather  sad  woman,  especially  at  times  in  Indiana  where  she  was 
high  above  her  surroundings,  including  all  the  Hankses,  and  I  may  say 
the  same  thing  in  Kentucky ;  and  when  she  broke  out,  it  was  like  the 
sunshine  in  a  cloudy  and  stormy  day,  giving  warmth  and  cheer  to  the 
world.  In  many  things  Mr.  Lincoln  and  his  mother  were  alike,  espe- 
cially in  self-reliance,  hate  of  forms,  love  of  substance,  in  sadness, 
carelessness  of  dress,  looks,  sensitiveness,  and  secretiveness.  You  now 
have  my  ideas  of  Mrs.  Lincoln.  I  told  you  in  one  of  our  private  con- 


220  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

versations  that  one  cause  of  Mrs.  Lincoln's  bad  reputation  among 
women  was  because  of  her  bold  steps  with  men.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  a 
good  thinker  rather  than  a  good  house-  and  child-cleaner ;  she  was  a 
rather  gloomy  woman  in  Indiana,  so  says  Mr.  Wood.  Mr.  Wood 
takes  his  idea  of  gloom  from  the  fact  of  a  meditative  mind,  a  mind 
with  an  idea.  Mrs.  Lincoln  pushed  aside  all  forms,  ceremonies,  and 
what  fashion  builds,  was  sensitive  and  secretive ;  she  acted  from  within 
and  not  from  the  without.  You  know  that  Mrs.  Lincoln  is  charged  with 
unchastity  and  the  like.  Do  not  these  charges  come  from  the  fact, 
among  the  women,  her  neighbors,  that  she  was  a  bold,  reckless,  cou- 
rageous, daring,  self-reflecting,  and  self-reliant  woman,  one  with  an 
idea  of  her  own  ?  I  read  a  description  of  Mrs.  Lincoln  in  some  Kentucky 
paper  some  years  since  which  in  part  confirms  my  impression  long 
since  made.  One  or  two  words  the  author  in  the  Kentucky  paper 
changed  after  the  first  issue.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  Mrs.  Lincoln  and  no 
one  else. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDOK. 


Springfield,  EL,  November  10,  1888. 
Friend  Weik: 

Some  proof  sheets  received  and  read — read  well.  Corrections  .  .  . 
Erase  the  word  "ruffians."  You  promised  me  at  the  Revere  to  do  it.  You 
would  set  loose  ten  thousand  hornets  on  my  head.  Put  in  the  words  wild 
men,  untamed  men,  or  some  such  words.  The  leading  characteristics  of 
these  men  were  integrity,  generosity,  hospitality,  and  courage ;  had 
great  good  horse  sense,  and  some  were  quite  cultured  for  time  and 
place.  You  will  never  see  the  like  of  these  men.  The  children,  grand,  and 
great-grandchildren  of  these  people  are  some  of  the  best  people  in 
Menard  and  it  would  not  do  to  say  Ruffians.  .  .  .  There  are  three 
claimants  for  the  poetry:  Doctor  Merryman,  old  man  Handcock — 
our  local  Scotch  or  English  poet — and  Oliphant,  but  the  better  idea  is 
that  Handcock  was  the  man.  Oliphant  was  not  a  man  of  any  value  on 
earth,  except  to  drink  whisky  and  run  with  bad  women,  as  I  remem- 
ber it.  Matheny,  I  think,  says  it  was  Merryman  who  wrote  the  poetry ; 
Lightfoot  says  Handcock,  and  that  is  what  I  heard  on  the  street  at 
the  time,  but  it  makes  not  much  difference. 


LETTERS     FKOM     HEBNDON  221 

Be  sure  that  Lincoln  comes  all  the  way  up  to  Bogue's  Mill.  It  seems 
to  me  that  he  did  and  that  I,  at  that  time,  saw  Lincoln,  but  be  sure  that 
I  am  right.  The  records  will  fix  it ;  it  has  now  been  fifty-six  years  since 
I  saw  what  now  seems  to  be  the  truth  to  me.  Try  and  get  me  right.  If 
L.  came  up  to  Bogue's  Mill,  I  saw  Lincoln,  and  if  he  did  not,  then  I  did 
not  see  him  at  Bogue's  Mill. 

I  will  see  Matheny  about  Oliphant  again  and  that  fine-dressed  man. 
Was  not  O.  that  man?  I  see  two  grammatical  errors,  which  you  will 
correct.  I'll  see  to  -facts,,  doing  the  very  best  I  can  in  that  field.  I  am  not 
certain  about  Oliphant  and  the  young  well-dressed  rake. 

It  has  been  thrown  up  to  me  recently  that  Butler  did  board  Lincoln 
free  from  1836  to  1843. 1  have  written  to  Will  Butler,  asking  him  to 
see  his  sister  too  and  get  his  and  his  sister's  opinion  on  the  facts.  I 
think  the  charge  is  a  lie.  Butler  was  poor  from  *36  to  1843  and  couldn't 
afford  it,  nor  would  L.  accept  of  such  long  continued  gratuity.  Will 
send  you  Butler's  letter  in  answer  to  mine,  if  he  writes  me. 

Please  send  me  a  certified  copy  of  the  contract  between  us  and  Bel- 
ford,  Clarke  &  Co.,  publishers,  etc.,  and  oblige  greatly. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNBON. 

P.S.  If  you  will  get  a  copy  of  a  letter  from  Lincoln  to  Hay  craft  now 
in  your  possession,  you  will  see  that  Lincoln  called  his  mother  Nancy 
Hanks  out  and  out.  This  will  help  you  in  the  first  or  second  chapters 
to  correct  doubts. 

Springfield,  IU.9  November  10,  1888. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Sir : 

I  owe  you  about  one  hundred  apologies,  but  can  at  this  moment  give 
you  three :  first,  I  am  a  very  poor  man  and  have  to  work  today  for  to- 
morrow's bread  and  butter ;  secondly,  I  am  a  farmer  and  have  to  attend 
to  its  duties ;  thirdly,  I  am  hurried  with  my  book,  now  in  the  hands  of 
the  publishers,  Messrs.  Belford,  Clarke  &  Co. — proof  sheets  corrected 
up  to  chapter  five.  These  are  the  reasons  why  I  have  not  written  to  you 
before.  I  might  say  that  I  had  nothing  to  write  about  interesting 
to  you.  When  you  come  back  to  Boston,  I  will  write  to  you  and  will 
then  send  you  some  important  notes  which  I  drew  up  solely  for  my 
own  satisfaction.  I  hope  that  they  will  assist  you ;  when  they  come  to 


222  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

hand,  copy  and  send  back  to  me.  Give  any  person  copies  of  the  notes 
with  the  understanding  that  they,  nor  the  facts  in  them,  are  to  be  pub- 
lished for  years.  You  may  do  the  same  with  any  or  all  of  my  letters. 
Robert  Lincoln  is  living  and  the  publication  of  them  or  the  facts  of 
them  would  offend  "Bob,"  who  religiously  hates  me  for  telling  naked 
truths  about  his  noble  father.  "Bob"  came  from  Chicago  once  raging 
to  be  somehow  satisfied.  He  had  some  extra  fool  advisers  in  Chicago, 
nice,  dainty,  finical,  kid-gloved  asses  who  loved  smooth  literature  with 
no  admixture  of  truth  in  it,  no  robust  truth.  You  know  that  this  is  not 
my  method  of  thinking  or  writing,  speaking  or  acting.  My  poor  book 
will,  I  guess,  suit  no  one,  but  that  I  cannot  help.  The  Life  is  mostly  an 
analysis  of  Lincoln,  an  attempt  to  let  people  peep  into  the  inner  man,  a 
thread  of  his  history  running  through  the  book  at  the  same  time.  The 
time  is  not  yet  to  correctly  and  accurately  estimate  and  weigh  Lincoln. 
We  are  too  close  to  him  and  the  times  in  which  he  lived  and  out  of 
which,  with  conditions,  he  wrought  his  great  glory ;  he  is  the  ideal  man 
of  America  and  probably  will  be  an  ideal  man  of  all  English-speaking 
people.  Everything  about  Lincoln  should  be  known  correctly  and  you 
will  help  to  preserve  important  facts  in  relation  to  him.  You  will  get 
in  the  book  truths,  facts,  opinions,  where  I  give  only  truth,  no  admix- 
ture of  falsehood,  if  I  can  avoid  it.  I  have  been  writing  on  facts,  to  get 
them,  twenty-five  years  or  more.  The  book  treats  of  Mr.  Lincoln  as  an 
individual,  domestically,  socially,  as  friend,  lawyer,  statesman,  poli- 
tician, his  religion  and  philosophy,  his  philosophy,  etc.,  etc.^ — don't  go 
much  into  war  matters ;  only  a  kind  of  a  one-eye  glimpse  of  it.  How 
does  this  ring,  how  does  it  suit,  my  friend?  .  .  , 

Can't  tell  you  anything  more  about  my  Life  of  Lincoln,  hope  it  will 
be  out  by  the  middle  of  January  or  first  of  February  next.  I  send  my 
highest  regards  to  all,  wife  and  children. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  IZZ.,  November  88,  1888. 
Friend  Jesse :  ' 

Your  letter  of  the  I5th  was  duly  received  and  in  answer  to  it  let 
me  say  that  the  Introduction  which  we  agreed  to  was  written  by  us 


LETTERS    FROM    HERNBON  223 

while  I  was  In  Greencastle  and  is  the  one  which  I  referred  to  by  me  in 
my  letters  and  the  one  to  which  you  referred  was  not  as  it  stands  agreed 
to.  In  my  great  hurry  to  comply  with  your  wish  to  hurry  up  things, 
I  neglected  to  erase  the  words  to  which  you  refer.  My  neglect  probably 
led  to  the  misunderstanding.  Charge  it  to  me. 

I  went  and  saw  Matheny  on  Tuesday  and  he  and  I  had  a  long  con- 
versation about  Bogue,  Oliphant,  et  al.  The  truth  is  as  follows :  Bogue 
had  goods  on  the  Talisman  and  to  that  extent  was  captain.  Oliphant 
was  the  captain  of  the  boat,  etc.,  hands,  etc.,  measurably.  Oliphant 
was  the  man  to  whom  the  grand  supper  was  given.  He  and  the  woman 
with  him  were  the  persons  who  acted  so  badly.  Oliphant  was  no  poet 
that  M.  and  I  knew  of.  My  idea  of  Oliphant  you  have  in  one  of  my 
letters.  Matheny  says  emphatically  that  Doctor  Merryman  wrote  the 
poetry.  At  the  time  that  the  poetry  came  out,  it  was  understood  on  the 
streets  that  Handcock,  our  local  Scotch  poet,  wrote  it.  However,  it 
makes  no  difference  who  wrote  it.  Unless  you  have  some  better  evidence, 
follow  the  above. 

I  saw  a  gentleman  in  M-*s  office,  during  the  above  conversation, 
whose  name  is  John  M.  Pierson,  who  married  Miss  Wilson,  daughter  of 
Judge  Wilson  of  the  Supreme  Court.  Mr.  Pierson  is  a  gentleman ;  he 
told  me  that  on  traveling  up  the  Ohio  or  somewhere  that  he  met  a  well- 
dressed  gentlemanly  Kentuckian  who  told  him  that  Nancy  Hanks  was 
kept,  as  it  were,  by  Enloe.  The  Kentuckian  spoke  as  if  he  knew  the 
facts  somehow.  This  Mr.  Pierson  is  a  Kentuckian,  and  his  father  lived 
near  Thomas  Lincoln,  say  in  the  same  county  in  Kentucky.  I  send  this 
to  you  to  go  with  the  rest  of  things.  .  .  . 

Enclosed  with  this  is  a  piece  which  I  am  desirous  to  have  go  in  our 
book  at  some  appropriate  place  which  will  be  found  as  we  go  along. 
Correct  it  and  let  her  slide  in.  Again  I  wish  that  the  piece  on  Lincoln's 
power  over  men  should  go  in ;  he  was  the  King  ruler  of  men  by  divine 
right.  I  can  better  the  one  which  I  wrote  you  in  much  haste.  This  con- 
tinual much  Tiaste  frets  me.  Can  the  pieces  go  in  before  it  is  too  late? 
Won't  bother  you  any  more  if  I  can  hold  off — a  hard  thing  to  do.  Can 
they  go  in?  Please  answer.  In  the  enclosed  piece  you  will  see  that  I  do 
not  quote  the  whole  of  the  poetry,  namely,  "There  is  a  tide,  etc.** 
Please  quote  it  all  just  as  in  Shakespeare.  I  couldn't  find  it — hurried 
then  and  now — have  been  for  weeks  and  am  now  putting  away  apples, 


224}  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

turnips,  etc.,  etc.  Will  get  through  soon,  I  hope,  and  then  I  can  help 
you  more. 

You  can,  if  you  wish,  strike  out  those  words  which  you  refer  to  in 
your  last  and  then  all  things  will  stand  fairly  and  as  evidently  intended ; 
am  for  the  city. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEUNDON. 

P.S.  I  am  glad  that  the  election  is  over,  though  I  am  whipped  badly. 
The  election,  the  result  of  it,  surprises  all  here.  There  is  one  consola- 
tion, and  it  is  this.  Harrison  will  make  a  good  President,  as  I  verily 
believe.  What  do  you  think,  Jesse?  W.  H.  H. 


Springfield,  7ZZ.,  November  ££,  1888. 
Friend  Weik : 

Some  few  days  since  I  sent  you  a  piece  on  Lincoln's  love  of  law  and 
order,  etc.,  which  I  wish  to  go  in  our  book.  However,  if  it  changes  that 
expression,  that  idea,  that  language,  in  the  other  parts  of  the  book 
and  causes  repetition,  erasures,  and  trouble,  or  too  many  changes  and 
alterations,  then  discard  it,  using  if  possible  that  little  speech  which  I 
made  L.  make.  Law  and  order,  liberty  and  union,  were  Lincoln's  in- 
spirations during  his  whole  political  life — a  fact,  a  great  -fact.  Pos- 
sibly the  changes  had  better  be  made  and  insert  the  piece.  That  little 
speech  can  be  inserted  anywhere  when  a  proper  place  is  found.  I  will 
send,  probably  with  this,  a  piece  on  L.'s  power  over  men  which  can  go 
in  my  lecture  at  the  end  of  the  book  just  between  the  last  paragraph 
and  the  one  above  it.  I  do  not  think  that  will  bother  you  or  the  publish- 
ers much.  Please  correct  grammatical  errors  only.  It  is  a  good  analysis 
of  Lincoln's  power  over  men.  If  you  conclude  to  insert  Lincoln's  love  of 
law  and  order  above-mentioned,  please  correct  grammatical  errors 
only.  Touch  both  pieces  lightly. 

I  saw  Littler  on  Saturday  last ;  he  says  that  Lincoln  did  not  make 
nor  attempt  to  make  a  speech  at  that  moment  of  time  spoken  of  when 
Ben  Edwards  said :  "I  would  rather  shake  hands  with  the  devil  than  to 
shake  hands  with  Douglas  on  this  question,"  or  as  some  put  it:  "I 
would  shake  hands  with  the  devil  on  this  question."  Littler  said  that 
Lincoln  made  a  speech,  a  glorious,  grand  one  on  the  same  evening  in 
the  hall  of  the  House  of  Representatives  eclipsing  all  others — Trum- 


LETTERS     FfcOM     HBBN0ON  225 

bull's,  Lovejoy's,  et  al.  The  speeches,  except  Lincoln's,  were  made  in 
Wright's  Grove  west  of  the  city  about  one  mile,  and  near  the  fair 
grounds.  The  speeches,  etc.,  were  made  in  the  fall  of  1858.  Littler  sajs 
that  Lincoln  wept  like  a  child  at  that  moment  of  time,  scene,  etc. 

I  saw  Keys,  who  was  my  informant  about  Nicolay  and  Hay's 
charging  Douglas  with  being  a  shyster.  Keys  now  says  that  they  used 
substantially  that  word,  not  the  very  word  shyster.  I  will  get  things  all 
right,  correct,  if  I  have  to  interrogate  men  a  hundred  times  and  inves- 
tigate things  often  and  often.  I  desire  greatly  to  get  at  the  exact  truth. 

Jesse,  would  it  not  be  well  to  insert  in  our  preface  the  fact  that  our 
book  was  not  designed  to  supersede  any  other  Life  of  Lincoln,  only  to 
supplement  them?  Remember  what  we  said  at  the  beginning  of  things. 
Again,  would  it  not  be  right  and  eminently  proper  for  us  to  acknowl- 
edge our  obligations  in  the  preface  to  all  persons  who  have  given  us 
honest  opinions  and  well-established  truths  in  relation  to  the  attri- 
butes, qualities,  or  characteristics  of  L.  and  the  facts  of  his  life? 
You  can  insert  these  ideas  without  sending  them  back  to  me  to  adapt, 
etc.  Again  I  want,  wish,  you  to  be  gratefully  and  honorably  mentioned 
in  the  preface.  I  said  this  once  and  I  say  it  to  you  earnestly  again.  If 
anything  of  this  kind  is  put  in  a  new  and  corrected  preface,  send  to  me 
to  see,  etc.,  etc.,  if  you  please.  These  ideas  are,  or  some  of  them  are,  in 
our  agreed  preface  dated  September  1, 1887,  and  a  copy  of  which  you 
sent  to  me ;  see  original.  „  .  . 

If  you  ever  see  any  notice  of  our  forthcoming  book  made  by  Belf ord, 
Clarke  &  Co.,  please  send  to  me  and  I'll  send  back  to  you,  and  if  you 
ever  see  any  criticisms  or  notice  of  our  boot  by  anyone  in  the  distant 
future,  please  send  to  me  and  I'll  return  to  you.  Here  in  the  country 
I  see  nothing  and  hear  nothing.  Please  at  all  times  remember  the  above 
requests,  do. 

Dave  Littler  tells  me  this  additional  story.  During  some  of  the  polit- 
ical canvasses,  the  people  in  Logan  County,  Illinois,  just  north  of  this 
county  and  adjoining  it,  had  determined  to  have  a  large  meeting,  a 
grand  rally,  and  had  appointed  the  day  and  the  hour.  When  the  day 
and  hour  arrived,  the  heavens  opened  with  a  terrific  storm ;  it  blew  in 
hurricanes  and  rained  in  torrents.  Only  about  twenty  persons  ap- 
peared. Lincoln  had  felt  this  sting  of  disappointment  and  therefore  he 
did  not  wish  others  to  be  disappointed.  After  some  reflection  he  said: 
"Boys,  the  day  is  bad,  too  bad  for  many  people  to  appear  here  to  hear 


226 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


me  speak,  but  as  you  have  dared  the  storm  to  hear  a  speech,  you  shall 
not  be  disappointed.  Come,  let's  us  go  over  to  Armington's  Hall  and 
I'll  give  you  a  talk,  such  as  I  have."  The  twenty  went  over  to  the  hall  in 
Atlanta,  and  Littler  said  to  me:  "For  a  calm,  cool,  profound  speech 
I  never  heard  so  great,  so  learned,  in  the  liberty  line,  so  dispassionate  a 
speech  in  my  life.  I  learned,"  said  Littler  to  me,  "more  of  the  ideas,  in 
the  two  hours'  speech,  of  Republicanism  then  and  there  than  I  ever 
knew  before.  Why,  the  speeches  of  other  men  sounded  dull  and  dead 
to  me  after  that."  Lincoln  must  have  done  his  best  on  this  occasion, 
because  Littler  felt  what  he  said  and  did  not  seem  to  color  his  story. 

Excuse  your  friend, 
W.  H.  HE&NDON. 

I  am  in  much  haste  for  the  city  loaded  with  the  products  of  the 
farm.  H. 

The  place,  village,  at  which  the  speech  was  made  was  Atlanta, 
Logan  County,  Illinois,  H. 

Spring-field,  IZZ.,  December  1,  1888. 
Friend  Jesse: 

Your  good  long  letter,  dated  the  25th  ult.,  was  duly  received.  The 
letter  is  a  good  and  a  satisfying  one ;  and  now  (1 )  as  to  Nancy  Hanks. 
We  promised  in  our  preface  to  suppress  nothing  true  and  to  suggest 
nothing  false  in  the  characteristics  and  history  of  Lincoln.  If  we 
strike  out  her  acts — and  doings — it  is  suppressing  nothing  true  nor 
suggesting  anything  false  as  to  Lincoln's  characteristics  and  facts 
of  his  life.  We  did  not  start  out  to  write  the  life  of  Nancy  Hanks,  but 
of  Lincoln,  the  man  in  a  special  line,  namely,  his  characteristics  and 
the  facts  of  his  life.  We  violate  no  promise  to  the  world  if  we  suppress 
Nancy's  unchastity,  if  a  fact.  The  reason  why  we  wanted  Nancy's 
character  and  acts  was  to  show  by  contrast  how  a  great  man  can  rise 
out  of  the  ashes.  That's  all.  There  is  a  plenty  of  contrast  material 
without  Nancy's  illegitimacy.  Men  would  charge  me  with  revealing  a 
sacred  private  matter  which  Lincoln  in  his  good  nature  gave  to  me. 
Lincoln  said  to  me :  "Don't  tell  this  while  I  live,"  and  I  have  kept  my 
word.  The  world  is  not  ready  for  the  truth,  the  whole  truth  yet.  I  am 
decidedly  in  favor  of  striking  out  all  mention  of  her  illegitimacy  and 
unchastity  if  such  is  the  fact.  I,  so  far  I  am  concerned,  wish  to  escape 


LETTERS  yKOM  HEBNDON  227 


severe  and  angry  criticism  on  this  delicate  pomt.  I  want  the  boot  to 
be  a  success,  a  complete  success,  and  I  am  in  favor  of  putting  the  book 
on  the  safe  side.  No  one  will  get  mad  because  we  suppress  Nancy 
Hanks's  illegitimacy  or  unchastity,  if  true,  but  thousands  will  go 
crazy,  wrathy,  furious,  wild,  etc.,  if  we  insert  such  suggestion.  Jesse, 
get  on  the  safe  side  and  be  prudent.  Now  you  have  my  candid  opin- 
ion, and  if  you  do  not  agree  with  me,  do  what  you  think  best,  most 
proper,  most  wise,  and  I'll  stand  square  up  to  you,  you  keeping  to  the 
record  and  to  the  truth. 

Now  (2)  about  that  good  little  dog  story,  and  as  you  may  not  get 
it  exactly  right,  let  me  restate  it.  Thomas  Lincoln  with  his  family 
started  to  go  from  Indiana  to  Illinois  in  March  1830.  The  weather 
was  rough  and  cold.  When  Lincoln  got  somewhere  near  the  line  that 
divides  Indiana  from  Illinois,  after  traveling  several  days,  the  family 
came  to  one  of  those  long  loggy  corduroy  bridges  laid  over  a  wide 
swamp.  The  water  was  over  the  logs  and  a  thin  sheet  of  ice  bridged 
the  water.  Now  and  then  there  were  posts  along  the  bridge  to  direct 
the  traveler.  The  family  came  to  the  edge  of  the  swamp.  Abraham 
drove  the  oxen,  two  yoke,  but  when  he  attempted  to  go  into  the  swamp 
and  on  the  bridge,  he  could  not  make  the  oxen  break  the  ice,  without 
apparent  cruelty.  Abraham  coaxed  and  threatened  by  turns,  but  the 
oxen  would  not  go  on  the  ice,  and  at  last  Abraham  saw  that  force 
must  be  applied,  so  he  swung  his  long  ox  lash  around  and  around  over 
the  oxen,  high  in  the  air,  and  brought  the  lash  down,  cutting  open  the 
hide.  The  oxen  at  last  went  on  the  thin  ice,  broke  their  way,  etc.  When 
about  half-way  over,  Abe  heard  his  poor  dog  bring  a  kind  of  despair- 
ing howl  ;  he  stopped  the  oxen,  pulled  off  his  shoes,  rolled  up  his  pants, 
got  out  of  the  wagon,  jumped  into  the  cold  water,  the  sheets  of  ice 
hitting  his  shins.  He  got  to  the  dog,  took  him,  frightened  nearly  to 
death,  in  his  long  and  strong  arms,  carried  him  to  the  wagon,  put  him 
in  it,  the  dog  crouching  close  to  Mrs.  Lincoln's  feet,  scared  half  out  of 
his  wits.  The  oxen  were  soon  told  to  go  on,  and  on  they  went  through 
the  ice.  After  the  family  had  crossed  and  got  on  dry  land,  Abe  found 
difficulty  in  getting  the  dog  out  of  the  wagon  ;  at  last  he  had  to  haul 
him  out  by  force.  When  the  dog  was  out  and  on  dry  land,  he  cut  up 
such  antics  as  no  dog  ever  did  before  ;  he  ran  round  and  round  Abe 
and  laid  down  at  his  feet,  got  up  and  ran  round  and  round  again  and 
again  ;  he  seemed,  was,  grateful  to  Abe,  his  benefactor.  Lincoln  said 


228 


THE     HIDDEN     3L  I  K  C  O  L  N 


to  Dubois  after  telling  him  the  story:  "Well,  Jesse,  I  guess  that  I 
felt  about  as  glad  as  the  dog."  This  story  I  got  from  Dubois,  he  get- 
ting it  from  L.  many,  many  years  ago  when  the  two  were  young  men. 
In  writing  what  you  do  write,  if  you  wish  to  know  my  authority,  when, 
where,  etc.,  etc.,  I  can  tell  you  quickly.  In  fact,  Jesse,  I  have  in  my 
memory  a  thousand  unwritten  facts  about  our  good  man,  Abe,  that 
were  told  me  by  good  and  truthful  people,  but  this  is  not  to  be  won- 
dered at  when  you  think  that  I  have  been  gathering  facts  of  L.'s  life 
for  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  century,  in  addition  to  what  I  learned  from 
1834  to  1865  of  him  by  actual  contact. 

Being  in  a  hurry  when  I  wrote  the  first  part  of  this  letter,  I  forgot 
to  say  to  you  that  you  can  safely  say  that,  in  law,  Abraham  Lincoln 
was  the  son  and  heir  of  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Hanks  Lincoln 
and  be  safe  in  the  saying  of  it.  The  general  reader  will  not  notice  the 
sharp  point,  m  law.  This  may  help  us ;  L.  was  born  in  lawful  wedlock 
and  that  is  enough  for  us.  Couch  the  idea  somehow  in  general  words. 
I  cannot  think. 

As  to  Lincoln's  courtship  with  Ann  Rutledge,  let  me  say  that  L.  is 
not  to  he  censured.  The  facts  are  that  Hill,  McNamar,  and  Lincoln 
courted  the  girl  at  one  and  the  same  time ;  she  preferred  McNamar 
and  L.  ceased  to  pay  much  attention  to  her,  if  any.  McNamar  after  his 
engagement  with  Ann  went  to  New  York  and  was  gone  about  two 
years.  The  relatives  of  the  girl  convinced  her  that  McN.  had  deserted 
her  and  at  last,  through  the  Rutledges,  Greens,  et.  al.,  the  girl  con- 
sented to  receive  the  visits  of  Lincoln.  Evidently  somehow  she  let  L. 
know  of  her  determination  to  cease  expecting  McNamar.  Lincoln  then 
and  not  before  plunged  in  the  second  time,  and  won.  The  poor  girl  un- 
fortunately died  a  short  time  before  L.  and  her  were  to  be  married.  I 
see  nothing  wrong  in  all  this.  Lincoln  acted  the  man  in  this  matter  as 
he  always  did  in  all  matters.  Publishers  of  books  know  too  much  and 
would  gut  things  of  all  pith  and  point  if  they  could.  You  and  I  ought 
to  know  something  after  studying  Lincoln  for  thirty  years  or  more. 

What  shall  I  say  to  General  McClernand  about  a  new  photo?  He 
gave  me  the  one  I  sent  you.  I  guess  McC.  is  poor  and  cannot  well  give  a 
new  one.  .  .  .  Hope  you  will  get  some  [photos]  in  Indiana  near  Gen- 
tryviUe,  and  if  you  go  to  New  York,  my  good  fellow,  don't  run  off  with 
some  pretty  "gal."  .  »  , 

Send  on  the  proofs  and  111  correct  as  to  facts  alone.  You  attend  to 


LETTERS    FEOM    HEENDON  229 

grammar  and  other  matters.  I  will  return  the  proof  slips  as  you  re- 
quest. Can  any  corrections  be  made  in  our  book  after  "the  advance 
sheets  are  sent  me  and  when  the  plates  are  cast"? 

I  saw  a  gentleman  on  Tuesday  last  in  Hay's  office  who  said  he  saw 
an  advertisement  or  notice  of  our  book,  but  by  whom  it  was  issued  he 
did  not  say ;  have  heard  of  no  circular  as  yet  from  the  publishers ;  hope 
to  see  one  soon,  etc. 

One  more  word  about  our  bar  group.  You  say  in  your  letter  that 
to  mention,  put  in  our  book,  too  many  photos  of  persons,  little  and 
unimportant  fellows,  having  no  connection  with  Lincoln  in  politics  and 
at  the  bar,  would,  if  not  in  the  text,  injure  the  book.  However  that  may 
be,  the  photos  which  I  send  you  are  not  little  unimportant  fellows, 
having  no  connection,  etc.  Many  of  these  men  were  Lincoln's  bosom 
friends,  political,  personal,  etc.,  dear  and  near.  They  practiced  at  the 
bar  with  him  for  years  and  I  think,  humbly  think,  that  outside  of  the 
matter  of  the  book,  its  composition,  etc.,  the  group  of  the  Sangamon 
bar  is  the  most  important  phase  of  our  book,  the  most  interesting,  the 
best  thing  to  study,  etc.  This  group  will  be  looked  at  and  studied  for 
generations.  If  there  are  too  many  photos  to  group,  the  engravings 
can  be  put  on  consecutive  pages  or  any  way  to  suit,  etc.  You  are  a 
little  mistaken  when  you  say  that  when  Lincoln  was  admitted  to  the 
bar  of  the  circuit  and  Supreme  Court  there  were  Logan,  Shields,  et  oL 
First  come  Stuart,  Logan,  Baker,  etc.,  and  Matheny  et  di.  come  in 
about  '43.  Lincoln  was  admitted,  I  think,  in  ?37.  Stuart,  Logan,  Baker, 
were  before  Lincoln.  All  of  these  men  caine  along  successfully,  some 
before  and  some  after  Lincoln*  All  that  I  have  just  mentioned  came 
here  say  from  1832  to  *46.  However,  I  suppose  this  makes  no  dif- 
ference in  your  general  idea. 

As  to  your  proposition  made  to  me  at  the  Revere  House  in  this  city 
at  present  I  shall  neither  accept  nor  reject.  I  do  not  like  to  make  a 
contract  about  things  when  I  am  in  the  dark  as  to  facts  about  it.  I  am 
determined  when  I  know  all  the  facts  of  the  case  to  do  you  justice  in 
the  end,  if  our  written  contract  does  not  do  so,  under  all  circum- 
stances. You  may  infer  from  this  that  your  proposition  is  rejected 
and  am  now  obliged  to  you  for  the  past. 

Give  my  best  respects  to  father,  brother,  and  sister  if  you  please. 

Your  friend, 
W. 


LINCOLN 


230  THE     HIDDEN 

P.S.     Please  file  all  my  letters  good,  bad,  and  indifferent.  They  will 
be  useful  sometime.     H. 


LINCOLN'S  NATURE — ONE  SIDE 

Springfield,  111.,  December  £$9  1888. 
Friend  Jesse  : 

I  guess  that  you  will  dislike  this  letter  about  as  heartily  as  you 
dislike  anything.  Nevertheless,  I  shall  send  it  and  ask  it  to  be  filed  away. 
I  suppose  that  you  will  agree  with  me  that  Lincoln  had  a  low  and 
feeble  circulation.  It  follows  physiologically,  does  it  not,  that  he  had  a 
slow,  but  a  somewhat  healthful  irritability ;  that  is,  his  whole  organism 
moved  slowly  to  the  influences  of  all  kinds  of  stimuli — he  thought 
slowly  and  acted  slowly  and,  as  I  said  in  one  of  my  lectures  on  Mr. 
Lincoln  in  '66,  his  body  and  mind  seemed  as  if  they  needed  oiling?  A 
man  thus  conditioned  has  his  spells  of  sadness — gloom  and  melancholy 
— if  not  his  spells  of  despair.  This  state  of  Mr.  Lincoln  made  him,  as  it 
were,  at  periods,  unconscious  of  his  surroundings,  and  to  arouse  that 
somewhat  dormant  consciousness  he  needed  a  stimulant,  and  that  was 
found  in  a  story,  and  tell  it  he  would.  The  human  mind  is  active  and 
cheerful  or  sad  and  gloomy  according  to  the  quantity  and  quality  of 
the  blood  sent  from  the  heart  through  the  brain.  This  story  telling,  this 
stimulant,  sending  more  blood  to  the  brain,  aroused  the  whole  man  to 
an  active  consciousness,  sense  of  his  surroundings.  Grave  men  in  grave 
times,  sometimes  his  ministers,  would  approach  him  in  order  to  state 
the  urgency  of  some  matter  that  needed  his  immediate  attention,  Mr. 
Lincoln  would  look  up  to  his  minister  half  sleepily,  dreamily,  saying : 
"Mr.  Secretary,  take  a  chair."  He  would,  in  a  moment  or  two,  after 
the  secretary  had  stated  his  errand,  tell  some  story,  much  to  the  dis- 
gust of  his  minister,  who  would  censuringly  say :  "Mr.  President,  this 
is  no  time  for  story  telling ;  the  times  are  grave  and  full  of  war,  and  the 
country  is  fast  drifting  to  ruin."  Mr.  Lincoln  would  good-naturedly 
reply :  "Come,  Mr.  Secretary,  sit  down,  sit  down,  I  have  a  perfect  and 
a  profound  respect  for  you  and,  were  it  not  for  these  stories,  I  should 
die,  they  are  vents  through  which  my  sadness,  my  gloom  and  melan- 
choly, escape."  Mr.  Lincoln  would  thus  arouse  his  half-dormant  con- 
sciousness into  activity,  into  full  play  and  power ;  and  after  he  had  been 


LETTEB.S    FROM     HER  K  BON  231 

thus  aroused  he  would  listen  to  what  the  secretary  or  minister  eagerly 
told  him,  like  a  philosopher,  and  in  a  short  moment  he  would  make  his 
answer,  his  reply,  so  wisely  and  so  earnestly  as  to  convince  the  man 
that  that  point  or  that  subject  had  been  thoroughly  and  maturely 
considered  before,  long,  long  before,  this  moment  of  meeting.  This 
state  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  particularly  so  if  it  was  accompanied  by  mental 
and  nervous  exhaustion,  produced  by  long  and  intense  study,  caused 
him  to  have  delusions — saw  apparitions,  specters,  and  the  like.  This 
man  was,  as  a  general  rule,  a  sad — a  gloomy  and  melancholy — man, 
but  at  exceptional  times  a  momentarily  happy  one,  and  it  was  a  curi- 
ous thing  to  see  him  sink  quickly  back  into  his  usual  state  of  sadness 
and  gloom  and  become,  as  it  were,  oblivious  of  his  surroundings,  man 
and  the  world.  Let  no  man  blame  Mr.  Lincoln  for  being  sad  or  see- 
ing apparitions ;  his  sadness  and  his  gloom  came  naturally  out  of  his 
organism  and  his  apparitions  from  the  same  source  somewhat  and 
from  nervous  and  mental  exhaustion.  Let  no  man  rudely  censure 
Mr.  Lincoln  for  his  story  telling,  because  the  telling  of  them  aroused 
him  and  made  him  happy  for  a  time.  Had  this  great  man  been  of  an 
ardent  temperament,  with  swift  and  strong  volumes  of  rich  blood 
pouring  through  his  brain,  had  he  been  impulsive — quick  to  think  and 
quick  to  act — rashly  running  before  the  complete  development  of  the 
individual  ideas  into  national  ideas  and  of  facts,  marching  with  ban- 
ners hastily  before  his  people,  blindly  grasping  at  the  trend  and  drift 
of  things,  hungry  and  longing  for  a  quick  end  of  the  national  quarrel, 
groping  his  way  before  ideas  and  facts,  this  great  nation  would  have 
been  two  governments  this  day.  This  feeble  and  low  circulation,  this 
slow  irritability  which  slowly  responded  to  stimuli,  this  organism 
with  herculean  strength  not  having  much  wear  and  tear  about  it,  by 
nature  conserving  its  forces — this  great  man  with  a  great  heart  and 
greater  head,  with  a  sublime  patience  and  an  endless  endurance,  saved 
the  nation  from  division  and  consequent  ruin.  Was  not  Mr.  Lincoln 
the  right  man,  in  the  right  time,  and  in  the  right  place?  Surely,  surely 
there  is  a  Providence  in  the  affairs  of  men,  has  been,  now  is,  and  for- 
ever will  be,  as  we  poor  mortals  see  it. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEUNBON. 

P.S.  I  know  that  this  does  not  suit  you ;  you  dislike  such  stuff  ter- 
ribly, and  yet  some  persons  may  like  it.  You  dislike  all  speculation, 


232  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

including  my  piece  on  L.'s  power  over  men  and  the  piece  on  L.'s  love  of 
law  and  order.     H. 

Publish  if  you  can  and  think  worthy.     H. 


Springfield,  ZZZ.,  Janiiary  k  1889. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Lincoln  and  I  had  various  and  diverse  conversations  in  rela- 
tion to  the  spirit  of  the  times  and  ahout  slavery  from  '53  to  *61.  I 
was  an  out-and-out  abolitionist,  radically  so.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  very 
conservative  man  and  a  cautious  one;  he  thought  slowly  and  moved 
slowly  in  the  matter  of  his  opposition  to  slavery.  I  declared  often  and 
often  in  his  presence  and  to  Mm  that  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  was  a 
thing  engendered  in  hell.  I  said  to  Mr.  Lincoln  repeatedly  from  '53 
to  *61  that  this  continent  was  not  broad  enough  nor  long  enough  to 
contain  the  principles  of  Liberty  and  the  despotism  of  Slavery  for 
any  great  length  of  time  together,  and  that  one  or  the  other  must  go 
to  the  wall  and  die  there,  not  only  cease  to  be  a  factor  of  power  in  the 
political  world,  but  that  one  or  the  other,  Liberty  or  Slavery,  must 
die.  I  said  to  Mr.  Lincoln  often  and  often  that  ill-gotten  gain  did 
no  man  any  good  and  that  this  applied  to  nations  as  well  as  in- 
dividuals, that  God  would  [right]  wrong  and  establish  justice. 
"This,"  said  Mr.  Lincoln,  "is  my  idea,  my  prediction,  and  note  it." 

Little  did  I  know  how  great  our  people  are  as  a  mass  of  men ;  how 
little  did  I  know  of  the  vast  number  of  great  men  in  the  country  who 
were  wise  leaders  and  brave  ones  in  the  terrible  war ;  and  how  much  less 
did  I  know  that  the  great  big  man  was  touching  my  shoulder  at  the 
moment. 

This  figure  Mr.  Lincoln  actually  used  just  as  I  have  told  it  to  you. 
I  remember  the  conversation  well,  just  as  well  as  if  it  had  happened  on 
yesterday.  Occasionally  I  remember  some  of  our  conversations  on  phi- 
losophy, science,  art,  law,  etc.,  etc.,  which  have  never  been  made  public. 
I  would  send  them  to  you,  but  what's  the  use?  The  Book  is  fixed,  like 
the  law  of  the  Medes  and  Persians,  cast-ironed. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


I/ETTEES    ^EOM    HEENBON  233 

Springfield,  IU.,  January  5,  1889. 
Friend  Weik: 

Mr.  Speed  told  me  this  story  of  Lincoln.  Speed  about  1839-40  was 
keeping  a  pretty  woman  in  this  city,  and  Lincoln,  desirous  to  have  a 
little,  said  to  Speed :  "Speed,  do  you  know  where  I  can  get  some?*9  and 
in  reply  Speed  said :  "Yes,  I  do,  and  if  you  will  wait  a  moment  or  so 
Fll  send  you  to  the  place  with  a  note.  You  can't  get  it  without  a  note 
or  by  my  appearance."  Speed  wrote  the  note,  and  Lincoln  took  it  and 
went  to  see  the  girl ;  handed  her  the  note  after  a  short  "how  do  you  do, 
etc.,"  Lincoln  told  his  business,  and  the  girl,  after  some  protestations, 
agreed  to  satisfy  him.  Things  went  on  right;  Lincoln  and  the  girl 
stripped  off  and  went  to  bed.  Before  anything  was  done,  Lincoln  said 
to  the  girl:  "How  much  do  you  charge?"  "Five  dollars,  Mr.  Lincoln.** 
Mr.  Lincoln  said:  "I've  only  got  three  dollars."  "Well,"  said  the  girl, 
"Fll  trust  you,  Mr.  Lincoln,  for  two  dollars."  Lincoln  thought  a  mo- 
ment or  so  and  said:  "I  do  not  wish  to  go  on  credit.  Fm  poor  and 
don't  know  where  my  next  dollar  will  come  from  and  I  cannot  afford 
to  cheat  you."  Lincoln,  after  some  words  of  encouragement  from  the 
girl,  got  out  of  bed,  buttoned  up  his  pants,  and  offered  the  girl  the 
three  dollars,  which  she  would  not  take,  saying:  "Mr.  Lincoln,  you  are 
the  most  conscientious  man  I  ever  saw."  Lincoln  went  out  of  the  house, 
bidding  the  girl  good-evening,  and  went  to  the  store  of  Speed,  saying 
nothing.  Speed  asked  no  questions  and  so  the  matter  rested  a  day  or 
so.  Speed  had  occasion  to  go  and  see  the  girl  in  a  few  days,  and  she 
told  him  just  what  was  said  and  done  between  herself  and  Lincoln,  and 
Speed  told  me  the  story,  and  I  have  no  doubt  of  its  truthfulness, 

Again  Mr.  Lincoln  told  the  following  story  of  himself  to  Judge 
Matheny,  Milton  Hay,  and  myself,  all  of  us  recollecting  the  story 
alike.  Mr.  Lincoln  went  up  to  Bloomington  Court,  and  was  gone  from 
home  some  two  weeks  and  was  desirous  to  get  home  to  attend  to  our 
own  court.  This  was  about  1850-51.  Lincoln  started  home  from  Bloom- 
ington late  on  Saturday  evening,  got  to  Salt  Creek,  about  twenty 
miles  north  of  this  city,  and  put  up  for  the  night  with  a  Mr.  Gotten- 
barger,  an  old  friend  of  Lincoln.  The  house  was  a  log  one  and  had  but 
one  room  in  it,  Cottenbarger  having  just  settled  in  a  wild  place.  There 
were  three  beds  ia  the  room  and  some  curtains  between  the  beds, 


234  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

bedsteads  were  arranged  so  that  the  foot  of  one  bed  was  close  up 
against  the  head  of  the  other — the  old  man  in  the  southeast  corner, 
the  grown  daughter  in  the  middle,  and  Lincoln's  north.  The  people  all 
went  to  bed,  and  way  in  the  night  the  girPs  feet,  by  accident  and  when 
asleep,  fell  on  Lincoln's  pillow.  Occasionally  in  her  sleep  she  moved 
her  feet  about.  This  put  the  detM  into  Lincoln  at  once,  thinking  that 
the  girl  did  this  of  a  purpose.  Lincoln  reached  up  his  hand  and  put 
it  where  it  ought  not  to  be.  The  girl  awoke,  got  up,  and  went  to  her 
mother's  bed  and  told  what  had  happened.  Possibly  Lincoln  had  tried 
to  repeat  what  he  had  done  just  before.  The  mother  said  to  the  girl  to 
pacify  [her]  :  "For  God's  sake,  say  no  more  and  go  to  bed,  the  man 
means  nothing.  If  the  old  man  hears  of  this,  the  deuce  will  be  to  pay." 
Lincoln  heard  the  conversation  between  mother  and  daughter  and 
thought  that  it  might  be  possible  that  the  old  man  was  awake  and 
not  asleep.  Lincoln  knew  Cottenbarger's  physical  power — a  great  big 
burly  strong  man  with  great  courage — and  he  therefore  fixed  his  eye  on 
a  large  heavy  hickory  chair  in  the  room  with  which  to  defend  himself 
if  Cottenbarger  should  attack  him.  However,  all  things  settled  down 
calmly  and  all  went  to  sleep  again,  except  Lincoln,  now  mortified  to 
death  at  what  he  or  the  decKL  in  him  had  done.  Early  in  the  morning 
Cottenbarger  got  up,  got  a  long  keen  butcher  knife  and  whetted  it  in 
the  rocky  jamb,  reached  up  the  chimney  and  cut  down  a  piece  of  dried 
venison,  took  a  piece  of  bread,  and  went  off  into  the  woods.  Lincoln 
in  the  meanwhile,  shivering,  kept  his  eye  on  the  old  man  and  on  the 
chair.  Lincoln  heard  some  whispering  between  the  old  man  and  his 
wife  and  was  convinced  that  the  old  man  had  heard  all,  and  Lincoln 
really  expected  the  devil  was  to  pay.  As  soon  as  the  old  man  had  gone, 
the  old  woman  got  up,  made  the  fire,  and  in  a  hurry  got  breakfast 
and  hustled  Lincoln  off  as  quick  as  possible.  Lincoln,  glad  to  get  off, 
jumped  quickly  in  his  buggy  and  was  off  for  home,  a  deeply  and  thor- 
oughly mortified  man.  Cottenbarger  had  great  discretion  and  hurried 
off  to  avoid  a  terrible  fight  with  Lincoln.  This  hurt  L.  so  badly  that 
be  had  to  tell  it  to  his  friends  for  relief, 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HESNDON. 

P.S,  Yoti  are  a  very  modest  young  man  and  how  does  this  suit  you? 
Would  the  stories  do  to  ''point  a  moral  or  adorn  a  tale"  ?  Would  they 
not  do  for  riders? 


LETTERS  FROM  HERNDOK  235 

Springfield,  IB.,  January  11,  1889. 
Friend  Jesse: 

You  remember,  in  the  last  proofs  YOU  speak  about  the  Richmond 
article  going  into  the  Conservative  by  a  kind  of  trick  and  that  Lin- 
coln knew  it,  by  inference  or  impliedly,  etc.  So  far  all  right.  You  then 
make  Lincoln  make  much  of  it,  take  advantage  of  it,  when  he  knew 
how  it  was  got  in,  etc.  Please  insert  this :  "It  is  probable  that  he  used  it 
with  effect."  Again  in  my  correction  I  say  substantially  that  the 
Conservative  was  a  Democratic  paper  with  pro-slavery  tendencies; 
add  or  insert :  "looking  out  of  Republican  eyes,"  or  "was  so  by  Re- 
publican construction."  Then  the  whole  in  this  particular  will  be 
exactly  correct.  Erase  the  words:  "Lincoln  told  me"  in  the  long- 
armed  ape  Stanton  story.  I  intended  to  erase  or  modify  it,  but  when 
it  was  too  late ;  was  in  a  hurry  to  get  the  proofs  to  you.  Lincoln  may 
have  told  me  the  story.  Please  see  to  it  and  have  it  corrected.  I  want 
no  errors  if  I  can  help  it.  You  do  not  give  me  enough  time  to  get  things 
correct.  I  intend  to  keep  on  the  safe  side.  If  you  have  sent  on  the 
proofs,  can  you  not  write  a  note  to  the  publishers  to  insert  the  qualifi- 
cations above  or  to  send  you  the  slip  and  you  correct?  Please  do  this. 
Someone  will  come  back  at  us  for  the  errors  unless  corrected.  I  want 
to  be  right  and  do  right  to  all  men  everywhere  and  at  all  times.  In  the 
last  proofs  you,  in  speaking  of  Stuart  et  oL,  say  that  envy  is  a  degrad- 
ing passion.  I  wish  to  say  a  word  in  order  to  put  you  right  in  your 
views  of  human  nature.  Every  organ  of  the  body  and  every  faculty 
of  the  mind  is  for  some  good  purpose  in  the  providence  of  God.  Envy 
is  a  feeling  and,  whether  it  springs  from  the  mind  or  body,  it  is  in- 
wrought in  human  nature  and  runs  down  through  all  the  animal 
world.  Envy  has  its  divine  purposes  and  what  is  it,  for  example?  If  I 
see  a  man  in  some  high  position,  has  wealth,  has  a  pretty  woman,  and 
I  envy  the  man's  possessions,  it  is  an  evidence  that  I  want  the  posi- 
tion, want  the  wealth,  want  the  pretty  creature ;  and  this  want  makes 
me  struggle  to  get  what  I  want.  Envy  is  a  spur,  a  whip,  a  nettle,  a  stim- 
ulant, driving  my  ambition  to  get  what  I  do  want.  Envy  to  fret  at 
another's  success  is  a  degrading  passion  when  abused,  or  rather  it  is 
the  abuse  of  envy,  the  over-fret,  that  makes  the  abuse  degrading. 
Jealousy  is  a  good  thing  unless  abused,  so  is  appetite,  so  is  the  divine 
passion  for  woman,  and  so  let  no  man  say  that  God  has  givea  to 
nature*  embodied  in  men,  a  degrading  passion.  It  is  poora  imperfect 


236  THE     HIDDEK     LINCOLN 

man  that  abuses  the  divine  in  him.  Lincoln  was  enmous  and  he  mani- 
fested it  in  many  of  his  speeches ;  he  wanted  Douglas's  position,  and 
his  envy,  free  from  hate,  made  him  struggle  for  it,  and  that  struggle 
gave  him  not  only  Douglas's  position,  but  a  higher  one,  and  satisfied 
his  wants  and  gratified  his  ambition.  Lincoln  did  not  abuse  that  divine 
quality  of  his  nature  to  get  what  he  wanted.  Lincoln  in  his  speeches, 
various  ones,  tells  on  himself,  proclaims  it  to  the  world,  unwittingly, 
unconsciously.  You  do  not  like  this  kind  of  stuff,  and  yet  it  is  neces- 
sary to  think  and  get  right.  Your  friend  likes  to  get  at  the  bottom 
of  things  by  analysis  and  induction,  by  synthesis  and  deduction,  and 
to  pardon  his  follies  and  his  weaknesses.  You,  I  think,  are  a  wor- 
shiper of  the  pure  narrative  style,  a  good  thing  by  the  way,  and  I 
forgive  you  for  the  worship  of  it.  Will  you  be  as  generous  to  your 
friend?  I  gave  you  my  ideas  of  envy  once  before  in  a  piece  on  Lincoln 
which  you  have  in  your  possession.  Good  friend,  pardon  me  for  this 
repetition  of  ideas. 

The  more  I  think  of  Mrs.  Francis,  Mary  Todd,  and  Mr.  Lincoln, 
the  more  am  I  convinced  that  Mary  Todd  helped  Mrs.  Francis  in  the 
conspiracy  to  yoke  Lincoln.  Miss  Todd  wanted  L.  terribly  and  worked, 
played  her  cards,  through  Mrs.  Francis's  hands.  By  the  way  I  now 
think  that  Speed  told  me  a  part  if  not  the  whole  of  the  conspiracy. 
Speed  and  [undeciphered]  about  Lincoln  and  it  [undeciphered]  he 
told  me  the  story  at  a  day  long  before  I  commenced  thoroughly  taking 
notes  in  1865. 

Again,  the  more  I  think  of  the  Ann  Rutledge  story,  the  more  do  I 
think  that  the  girl  had  two  engagements,  i.e.,  that  she  was  engaged  to 
two  men  at  one  and  the  same  [time].  I  do  not  recollect  that  she  ever 
got  a  release  from  McNamar,  though  she  tried  to  get  one.  Lincoln 
jumped  in  when  Ann  was  ready  to  receive  his  jump.  I  do  not  think  that 
Abraham  acted  badly.  I  shall  change  my  opinion  of  events  and  things 
on  the  coming  of  new  facts  and  in  more  mature  reflection  in  all  cases, 
and  so  excuse  me  for  "sorter"  wabbling  around.  I  reserve  the  right  to 
change  when  I  am  wrong  in  fact  or  opinion.  I  do  not  by  this  wish  that 
the  text  of  the  book  be  changed,  because  it  is  substantially  correct  any- 
how* I  have  no  suggestions  to  make  and  no  pieces  now  to  put  in  the 
book  further  than  you  know  of,  etc.  Ugly  weather  here.  How  is  it  in 
Indiana? 

[W.  H. 


LETTEB.S  FEOM  HEEKDON  237 

Springfield,  III,  January  15,  1889. 
Friend  Weik: 

Your  letter,  dated  the  llth  inst.,  was  received,  and  I  shall  do  by 
you  as  I  would  wish  to  be  done  by.  I  shall  answer  all  your  questions 
directly  or  indirectly  put.  First,  if  you  know  that  it  will  be  for  our 
best  interests  to  go  on  to  New  York,  go ;  secondly,  if  you  know  that 
you  need  help  about  the  index,  employ  that  help.  I  received  some 
photos  and  will  distribute  them  when  I  get  able  to  go  out  and  to  the 
city.  I  am  sorry  that  the  index  bothers  you  so  much.  It  seems  to  me 
that  our  book  ought  to  be  got  in  two  volumes.  The  three  volumes  will 
make  it  cost  so  much  that  it  cannot  be  bought  by  the  mass  of  read- 
ers. It  seems  so  to  me,  but  I  suppose  that  you  and  the  publishers  know 
what  is  best.  You  speak  again  about  the  distribution  of  profits,  etc., 
of  our  book.  I  said  to  you  once  that  when  I  know  the  facts  of  the  case 
I  would,  as  I  saw  it,  do  you  justice,  and  so  I  will.  Thirdly,  the  second 
or  new  contract  with  B.,  C.  &  Co.  does  not  give  them  the  power  or 
authority  to  give  away  our  books  to  pay  for  the  ads.  In  your  letter 
to  me,  dated  December  22,  1888,  you  state  that  both  contracts  are 
alike,  identical  except  in  a  few  things.  I  think  that  you  err  in  this 
opinion  woefully.  The  old  contract  required  B.,  C*  &  Co.  to  pay  all 
expenses,  etc.,  and  to  reimburse  them  for  the  costs,  etc.,  they  had 
1500  copies  of  our  book.  The  second  contract  is  silent  on  that  question, 
but  the  silence  on  that  question  i*  no  authority,  even  implied,  to  give 
away  4fl6  copies.  Why  not  charge  us  with  the  costs  of  the  agents  and 
all  other  expenses  ?  It  appears  from  the  said  account  that  1061  new 
copies  of  our  book  were  issued  and  only  415  copies  accounted  for.  You 
may  stand  and  sanction  all  this,  but  I  shall  not.  I  will  hold  someone  re- 
sponsible for  the  loss,  wrong,  call  it  what  you  will.  There  is  a  day 
after  tomorrow.  I  shall  struggle  against  all  swindles.  There  has  been 
from  1887  to  this  day  a  kind  of  mystery  hanging  and  hovering  over 
this  whole  book  affair.  You  do  not  answer  my  letters  nor  the  questions 
put  to  you  in  them.  Human  nature  would  teach  you  that  your  silence 
breeds  suspicion.  You  should  be  prompt  and  explicit  in  your  business 
with  me.  You  should  willingly  and  fully  explain  to  me  all  things  in 

relation  to  this  book  business.  I  repeat  to  you  that  you  are  a  d d 

bad  correspondent.  You  ought  to  take  it  for  granted  that,  when  I  ask 
questions  of  you,  those  questions  are  interesting,  important  to  me* 
and  rest  on  my  mind,  vexing  me  if  not  answered.  Again  I  say  that 


238  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

there  was  and  is  a  perpetual  mystery  hanging  over  this  book  business. 
Why  were  the  contracts  with  B.,  C.  &  Co.  made  in  your  name  alone 
and  not  in  the  name  of  H.  and  W.  ?  Why  throw  up  the  old  contract  by 
which  we  were  to  receive  40^  per  set  and  take  a  new  one  at  25^  per 
set?  What  was  the  consideration  given  us  for  the  abandonment  of  the 
40$  clause  and  take  25fJ?  Why  did  you  not  bounce  the  report  sent 
mefromB.,  C.&Co.? 

Now  as  to  changing  the  three  volumes  into  one,  I,  as  a  matter  of 
course,  object.  You  know  that  I  objected  in  the  first  place  to  the 
three- volume  idea,  wanted  a  cheaper  book  for  the  People.  White's  idea 
of  the  stream  of  literature  was  and  is  correct.  Inventions  follow  the 
same  law  and  so  do  taste,  learning,  ideas,  fashion,  etc.  Do  not  spend 
any  more  money  than  you  can  help  at  the  Western  Literary  Associa- 
tion. Would  be  glad  to  hear  from  you  while  at  the  association ;  send 
along  the  papers  if  any  should  speak  of  us  and  our  book.  One  volume 
will  do  if  the  matter,  new  and  old,  is  not  cut  down ;  want  all  in  the  new 
edition.  The  royalties  to  remain  the  same  as  in  the  three  volumes. 

What  do  you  think  of  Bob's  acts?  I'll  tell  you  what  I  think,  I  think 

he*s  a  d d  fool.  He  has  the  insane  rage  of  his  mother  without  the 

sense  of  his  father.  Robert  Lincoln  is  "a  wretch"  of  a  man.  Will  you  tell 
B.,  C.  &  Co.  what  he  has  done? 

I  keep  getting  good  complimentary  letters  from  different  quarters. 
I  think  the  book  is  selling  faster  than  B.,  C.  &  Co.  are  at  present  aware 
of.  It  so  seems  to  me  from  the  letters  which  I  receive  and  from  news- 
paper notices,  etc.,  etc.  There  are  two  things  about  the  book  that 
strike  me :  first,  no  one  doubts  its  truth ;  and,  secondly,  no  one  says 
that  it,  in  any  way,  is  prejudiced  against  Mr.  Lincoln.  All  say  it  is 
truthful  and  will  shape  Lincoln's  character  for  all  coming  time.  When 
nice,  dainty,  over-sensitive  men,  mere  hero  worshipers,  get  cooled 
down,  the  Life  will  be  (ours)  the  leading  Life  of  L.  for  many,  many 
years.  This  is  my  opinion.  By  the  way,  send  me  a  few  of  your  circulars, 
tibose  written  by  yourself  as  soon  as  you  get  them,  please. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

Springfield,  HI.,  January  ##,  1889. 
Friend  Jesse : 

You  are  not  the  very  best  correspondent  I  ever  saw,  but  I  suppose 


LETT BBS     PEOM     HEENDON  239 

that  I  will  have  to  put  up  with  it.  I  sent  you  the  last  proofs  as  soon 
as  I  could ;  have  been  under  the  weather  all  winter,  only  going  to  the 
city  twice  this  winter,  my  son  going  in  my  place  and  doing  my  business. 
By  the  way,  I  see  that  our  friend  Whitney  in  Chicago  is  to  be  handled 
pretty  roughly  in  the  woman-shooting  case — Mrs.  Rawson*s  case.  I 
expect  it  will  be  proved  that  Whitney  went  too  far,  went  way  beyond 
the  duties  and  privileges  of  an  attorney  and  did  unprofessional  things, 
possibly  corrupt  things ;  am  sorry  for  it  on  two  grounds :  first,  on 
Whitney's  account,  and,  secondly,  on  our  book's  account.  .  .  . 

I  am  extremely  anxious  to  have  three  corrections  made  in  our 
proofs,  book:  first,  the  Conservative  newspaper  story  wherein  Math- 
eny  and  Stuart  indirectly  cut  a  figure ;  secondly,  the  story  of  Lincoln 
and  Stanton,  the  long-armed  ape  story ;  and,  thirdly,  the  Parker  ser- 
mon story  wherein  Lincoln  is  made  to  mark  a  sentence.  In  the  second 
case,  if  I  distinctly  remembered  that  Lincoln  said  to  me  he  heard  Stan- 
ton  say  what  he  is  made  to  say,  I  would  not  dodge,  but  I  cannot  state 
it  so  sharply,  so  distinctly.  I  heard  the  story  often  and  from  many  men 
in  this  city,  Chicago,  and  other  places.Hence  I  cannot  fix  the  man  who 
first  told  me  the  story.  In  the  third  place,  I  loaned  Lincoln  the  Parker 
sermon  unmarked  and,  when  it  was  returned  to  me,  it  was  marked,  and 
that  is  all  that  I  can  truthfully  state.  In  the  Conservative  newspaper 
story  as  told  by  you  in  the  proofs  I  cannot  help  you  much.  The  records 
in  your  possession  will  explain  the  history  fully.  In  reading  the  Math- 
eny  letter  you  will  see  what  Lincoln  thought  of  the  Fillmore  move 
and  the  Conservative  newspaper,  and  by  my  letters  to  you  what  he 
thought  of  Matheny,  Stuart,  etc.  You  see  that  it  all  corresponds  with 
what  I  told  you.  What  Lincoln  said  about  M.  and  S.  is  private,  sa- 
credly so.  Lincoln  scorned  the  whole  move  with  all  his  soul.  This  I  do 
know.  Do  you  want  any  more  facts  about  Lincoln  to  complete  your 
record  for  the  present  or  the  future?  State  your  wish,  for  it  is  a  bother 
to  me  and  costs  me  money,  only  a  little  it  is  true,  but  that  little  is 
much  to  me. 

I  hope  that  the  inundated  state  of  the  proofs  has  gone  down  by  this 
time,  hope  that  you  are  done  trembling  and  free  from  all  distress.  Jesse, 
this  is  a  bad  state  of  literary  affairs,  is  it  not?  Pray,  Jesse,  for  better 
times.  Here  is  a  place  and  now  the  time  that  faith,  with  works  and 
prayers,  will  do  good.  What  do  you  think?  Seriously,  I  judge  from 
what  you  say  about  the  many  proofs  recalled  that  you  are  straggling 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

to  correct  errors,  mate  amendments,  and  to  have  things  correct,  true, 
etc.,  according  to  the  facts,  opinions,  etc.,  of  the  records.  I  thank 
you  for  all  this  many  times,  many  times,  Jesse. 

Will  you  plea&e  send  me  the  new  title  page  and  the  new  preface  or 
introduction  to  our  book  before  the  plates  are  cast,  soldered  together 
somehow?  Copies,  any  kind,  will  do  just  as  well. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDON. 

P.S.  Lincoln  came  out  of  the  great  Douglas  race  in  1858,  after 
speaking  probably  fifty  or  sixty  times,  a  new  man,  vigorous,  healthy, 
fresh  as  a  young  man,  better-colored,  more  elastic,  more  cheerful,  less 
sad,  stronger,  and  improved  every  way.  Douglas  was  worn  out,  voice 
gone,  broken  down,  a  wreck,  as  it  were.  Saw  both  men  during  and  just 
bef ore  and  just  after  the  race  and  state  what  I  saw  and  know.  Lincoln's 
voice  was  less  husky,  broken,  wheezy ;  it  improved  all  the  time. 


Springfield,  III.,  February  9, 1889. 
Friend  Jesse: 

I  desire  to  leave  my  ideas  on  Mr.  Lincoln *s  sadness,  gloom,  and  mel- 
ancholy on  the  record.  I  have  studied  Mr.  Lincoln  from  1834*  to  the 
year  1889,  and  I  have  come  to  the  conclusion  long  since  that  his  sad- 
ness, etc.,  were  caused  by  three  things  principally :  first,  his  organiza- 
tion ;  secondly,  his  knowledge  of  the  low  condition  of  his  family  and  his 
descent,  not  including  any  idea  of  his  illegitimacy  resting  on  his  own 
mind ;  and,  thirdly,  his  domestic  relations,  the  hell  of  his  domesticity 
or  his  domestic  life.  In  this  opinion  I  waive  any  idea  of  prenatalism, 
the  influence  of  his  mother's  mind  on  him  during  her  pregnancy,  and 
hereditary  influence.  I  would  risk  my  chances  in  heaven  on  this  long- 
settled  opinion,  founded  on  long  years  of  observation,  experience,  and 
reason.  You  may  reply:  "Do  not  the  letters  from  Boston  from  Bart- 
lett,  the  artist,  and  from  physicians — able,  distinguished,  and  learned, 
from  Boston — settle  that  question,  rather  unsettle  it?"  and  to  which 
I  reply :  "Neither  Mr.  Bartlett  nor  any  physician  from  Boston  gave 
his  opinion  on  the  precise  question.  Their  letters  and  opinions  were 
on  Mr.  Lincoln's  low  organization,  not  on  the  causes  of  Lincoln's  sad- 
ness, gloom,  and  melancholy."  Now  you  have  my  distinct,  definite,  and 
eknB~eut  ideas.  Generally  I  write  to  you  loosely,  carelessly,  and  rap- 


LETTERS     FKOM     H  B  B.  K  B  O  H  241 

idly,  not  caring  what  I  said  as  to  manner  or  method  of  expression, 
but  sticking  to  the  precise  or  substantial  truth.  This  was  all  I  cared 
for,  knowing  that  jou  would  polish  up  things  to  suit  yourself.  I  once 
talked  about  miasmatic  influences  on  Lincoln  in  answer,  as  it  were,  to 
Nicolay  and  Hay's  opinion  on  miasma.  You  have  the  letters  and  I  stick 
to  them  in  substance,  but  they  are  not  on  the  precise  questions  in  this 
letter,  though  they  bear  on  them  somewhat.  I  need  not  say  to  you  that 
I  have  studied  the  sciences  somewhat  relating  to  these  questions,  and 
think  that  I  am  fully  supported  by  them.  In  conclusion  let  me  say  to 
you  this:  The  world  will  never  rest  till  it  knows  all  about  Lincoln, 
inside  and  outside. 

Your  friend, 
W.  H. 


Springfield,  III.,  October  5,  1889. 
Friend  Bartlett: 

I  received  your  kind  letter  from  France,  dated  July  22,  for  which 
I  thank  you.  Your  letter  should  have  been  answered  long  since  but  I 
had  two  reasons  for  not  answering:  first,  I  have  some  hard  work  to  do 
on  my  farm ;  and,  secondly,  I  had  nothing  to  say  and  this  last  is  a 
good  reason.  I  am  glad  to  know  that  your  son  has,  at  the  great  Paris 
Exposition,  won  a  medal  of  honor.  As  you  well  say,  for  a  young  man 
just  out  of  his  "teens"  to  take  the  high  honor  which  he  did  is  glory 
enough.  Success  in  Paris  means  much  in  his  field.  Every  American  feels 
proud  of  American  success ;  I  do  not  care  whether  this  success  is  in 
science  or  art.  Tell  your  son  for  me  to  put  his  eye  on  his  high  ideal 
and  keep  it  there  with  hope  and  chisel  in  hand  till  his  highest  piece  shall 
walk  out  a  perfect  thing  before  admiring  men.  This  masterpiece  I  do 
candidly  wish  he  may  execute.  I  love  the  youth  of  our  land  and  pray 
for  their  success  in  all  the  walks  of  life.  Their  honor  is  America's 
honor.  In  fact,  as  I  see  it,  America  is  the  hope  of  the  world. 

We  out  West  feel  the  pressure  of  hard  times,  the  armies  of  trusts, 
the  power  of  monopolies,  rings,  and  the  like,  but  we  are  rich  in  all  the 
necessaries  of  life.  We  have  never  in  the  West,  in  certain  lines  of  lati- 
tude and  longitude,  raised  such  crops  as  we  have  this  year.  The  trusts 
begin  to  shake,  because  they  are  scared  over  threatened  State  and 
national  legislation,  and  well  they  be,  for  the  people  are  being  aroused. 


242  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

I  do  not  like,  as  a  general  rule,  to  interfere  with  commerce,  but  robbery 
I  have  no  respect  for  and  trusts  are  robbers. 

You  were  informed  at  the  time  you  wrote  your  letter  that  nay  poor 
book  was  out,  and  I  somewhat  fear  that  you  do  not  like  it.  The  Life  of 
Lincoln  is  having  a  good  run,  as  I  am  told.  In  your  letter  you  state  a 
big  fact,  and  it  is  this :  "Truth  is  not,  so  far  as  I  ever  learned,  in  any 
general  demand."  The  criticisms  generally  are  favorable  and  yet  some 
of  them  are  savage,  but  I  guess  I  can  stand  it  quite  bravely.  Give  my 
best  love  to  all  your  family. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON, 

I'll  send  you  those  Lincoln  notes  just  as  soon  as  Senator  Fowler  l 
is  done  with  them.  He  lost  his  lovely  daughter,  and  I  do  not  wish  to 
say  anything  to  him  just  now  about  the  notes.  H. 


Springfield,  III.,  December  12, 1889. 
Friend  Jesse: 

Your  letter  dated  the  3d  inst.  is  at  hand.  I  do  not  see  how  I  can 
ratify  and  confirm  an  act  not  already  done.  I  can  do  this :  I  can  con- 
sent that  you  make  the  contract  spoken  of  in  yours  of  the  third  with 
Belford,  Clarke  &  Co.,  as  long  as  you  confine  the  contract  to  the  terms 
of  yours  of  the  3d  inst.,  including  the  idea  that  B.,  C.  &  Co.  account 
to  us  every  three  months,  as  in  the  old  contract,  or  you  can  write  out 
the  contract  and  send  it  to  me  and  I'll  sign  it.  ...  I  trust  you,  Jesse, 
for  I  know  nothing  about  book  making  and  the  sale  of  the  books,  am 
totally  green  in  this  business.  I  hope  that  the  royalty  plan  spoken  of 
by  you  will  be  the  best  thing  that  we  can  do  in  the  matter.  They — 
B.,  C-  &  Co. — will  get  some  advantage  or  they  would  not  make  the 
new  contract.  I  am  quite  intuitive  about  men  as  well  as  coming  events. 
Lincoln  used  to  pay  great  attention,  or  had  respect  rather,  to  that 
peculiarity  of  my  nature,  and  in  coming  to  the  office  of  a  morning, 
during  the  exciting  years  from  '54s  to  *60,  he  would  always  say :  "Billy, 
how  is  your  bones  philosophy  this  morning?"  He  said  this  because  I 
frequently  told  him  that  this  or  that  would  inevitably  take  place  be- 

i  See  HenMkm*s  letter  of  February  18,  I88€. 


STEPHEN  A.  DOUGLAS 


.Lincoln's  Compi- 
lation on  Slavery 


LINCOLN'S 
NOTEBOOKS 


Prepared  by 
Lincoln  for 
His  Debates 
with  Douglas 


LETTBHS     yaOM     H  B  tt  H  D  O  H  243 

cause  I  felt  it  in  my  bones*  This  I  told  Mm  often.  Lincoln  was  entirely 
logical,  had  no  intuition  at  all.  You  will  see  this  better  told  in  the 
Everyday  Life  of  Lincoln.  .  .  . 

I  am  glad  to  know  that  you  will  soon  go  at  work  in  collecting  new 
materials  and  in  writing  up  the  pith  and  marrow  of  our  new  matter. 
I  promised  Mr.  Pierce  that  he  should  see  our  note  on  his  matter  sent 
to  us.  The  Lincoln  Locofoco  skunk  story  *  is  in  two  of  my  letters  now 
in  your  hands,  hunt  'em  up  if  you  use  the  story.  What  I  have  sent  you 
as  new  matter,  you  can  use  or  not  at  your  pleasure.  Much  of  what 
I  say  to  you  about  the  new  matter,  notes,  etc.,  etc.,  for  the  book,  will 
send  you  all  things  worthy  of  your  attention  and  the  world's,  glad 
that  you  want  to  make  the  book  perfect  as  it  can  be,  a  great  historical 
monument  for  Lincoln  especially.  Mr.  White  2  thinks  that  the  story, 
etc.,  of  the  chronicles  of  Reuben  or  the  Grigsby  episode  ought  to  be 
stricken  out  in  the  third  edition,  as  it  cannot  be  in  the  second  edition. 
If  it  had  never  gone  in  the  first  edition,  possibly  I  would  say,  don't 
put  it  in,  but  as  it  has  gone  before  the  world,  I  am,  as  I  now  feel, 
opposed  to  modifying,  changing,  or  wholly  omitting  it  in  the  third 
edition.  The  whole  story  only  goes  to  show  the  condition  of  society  in 
Indiana,  Lincoln's  home  from  1816  to  1831,  that  Lincoln  was  affected 
by  his  environments,  but  that  in  after  life  he  was  strong  and  great 
enough,  through  his  struggles,  to  cast  it  off  and  rise  above  his  early 
environments,  which  not  one  man  in  a  million  can  do.  The  episode 
is  a  part  of  his  history,  explains  the  germs  of  his  wit  and  his  fawmor. 
I  admire  the  good  tastes  of  life  as  well  as  any  man  or  woman  and 
cannot  be  made  to  defend  the  nasty,  obscene,  or  vulgar  under  any  cir- 
cumstances, but  I  do  fail  to  see  why  the  episode  causes  a  blush  on  any 
man's  or  woman's  cheek.  Some  people  are  too  nice  for  this  material 
sphere,  this  muddy  globe  of  ours.  I'll  think  about  this  matter  further. 
You  know  that  I  am  easily  managed,  want  our  book  to  be  a  glorious 
success. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEKNDOK. 

Make  no  kind  of  a  reply  to  what  Nicolay  and  Hay  say  of  our 
book. 

i  See  pp.  397-398. 

*  An  editor  at  Belford,  Clarke  &  Co. 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Springfield,  7ZL,  December  %Q,  1889. 
Friend  Bartlett: 

Your  letter,  dated  the  17th  ult.y  was  duly  received,  for  which  I 
thank  you.  I  fear  that  what  you  say  about  Robert  Lincoln  is  true; 
he  has  his  mother's  insane  temper  without  his  father's  discretion. 
I  have  a  tender  feeling  for  the  man,  first,  because  of  the  "boy,"  and, 
secondly,  on  account  of  his  father ;  and  yet  I  must  say  that  Bob  is  a 
"little  wee  bit  of  a  man,"  I  am  sorry  that  he  did  as  you  were  informed 
he  did.  It  is  just  like  Bob,  however.  A  book  cannot  be  put  down  by  such 
methods.  Such  acts  will,  if  known,  add  to  the  sale  of  the  Life  of  Lin- 
coln, the  sale  of  any  book.  I  am  told  that  the  Life  of  L.  can  be  had 
in  Paris,  Brentano's,  Rue  de  POpera. 

I  owe  you  an  explanation  and  PU  give  it  here.  When  I  finished  the 
Life  of  Lincoln,  I  was  as  poor  as  a  church  mouse  and  even  so  yet.  To 
get  it  published  I  had  to  bend  to  terms.  I  was  compelled  to  wait  for 
books  or  money  till  the  publishers  were  paid  in  full.  They  have  not  as 
yet  been  paid,  as  I  am  informed.  Consequently,  I  have  received  up 
to  this  day  no  books,  no  money,  neither  of  them.  I  am  compelled  to 
work  on  my  farm  today  for  my  tomorrow's  bread  and  butter.  This 
explains  to  you  why  I  have  not  sent  you  a  copy,  but  I  will  some  time, 
if  I  live.  You  must  not  think,  my  friend,  that  I  am  stingy  or  un- 
grateful. 

I  think  that  you  are  correct  when  you  say  that  truth,  in  no  quarter 
of  the  globe,  is  in  much  demand,  and  never  has  been,  and  never  will 
be.  Men  love  old  truths,  never  new  ones,  as  a  general  rule ;  they  handle 
truths  gingerly,  but  there  are  souls  that  do  love  the  truth  for  its 
own  sake,  and  sooner  or  later  the  Life  of  L.  will  find  them.  I  drew 
the  picture  of  Mr.  Lincoln  as  I  saw  and  knew  him.  I  told  the  naked 
God's  truth,  and  I'll  stand  by  it,  let  the  consequences  be  what  they 
may  be.  I  think  that  the  great  majority  of  the  critics  look  at  the  book 
favorably.  I  get  a  great  many  private  letters  congratulating  me  on 
the  book.  It  is  a  curious  and  a  wonderful  fact  that  no  critic  and  no 
other  man  doubts  the  facts,  the  truths,  stated  by  me  in  the  Life  of  L. 
I  have  seen  some  savage  attacks  on  the  book.  One  editor  says  it  is 
vulgar,  obscene,  etc*,  the  article,  as  supposed,  was  inspired  by  Bob. 
Pardon  me  for  talking  so  much  about  this  subject. 

Now  let  me  talk  some  about  other  things.  The  Democracy  was  in 
the  late  elections  victorious.  The  depleting  in  the  Republican  ranks 


LETTERS     FKOM     H  £  E  N  B  O  N  245 

was  mostly  caused  by  the  high  tariff  and  consequent  high  taxation 
on  the  necessaries  of  life,  caused  by  it.  Trusts,  rings,  corners,  and  the 
like  methods  of  swindling  have  caused  some  suffering  and  much  "cuss- 
ing." President  Harrison  seems  up  to  this  date  a  weak  brother  and 
an  obstinate  one.  If  he  does  not  improve  soon,  he  will  make  President 
Pierce's  administration  quite  respectable.  The  great  fight  in  Congress 
this  winter  will  be  over  two  subjects :  first,  the  tariff,  and  second,  over 
the  distribution  of  the  excess  of  money,  the  surplus  in  the  Treasury  put 
there  by  the  high  tariff.  I  am  not  shooting  politics  at  you  at  all,  only 
giving  you,  in  this  line,  what  is,  has  been,  and  will  be. 

In  one  of  my  letters  I  said  something  to  you  about  crops.  In  Kansas 
the  people  are  burning  corn  in  place  of  coal,  finding  it  the  cheaper 
fuel  of  the  two.  We  can  send  to  Europe  somewhere  near  two  hundred 
millions  of  bushels  of  wheat,  and  other  farm  products  in  proportion. 
We  are  rich  in  things  to  eat  but  suffer  somewhat  for  money,  the  great 
surplus  in  the  Treasury  causing  a  contraction  in  the  money  market. 
You  say  that  America  will  have  to  go  through  her  troubles  and  if  it  is 
not  one  thing  it  is  another — correct,  but  do  not  all  general  human 
troubles  keep  us  from  stagnating  and  going  backward?  Progress  is 
slow  but  sure. 

I  see  that  the  Knights  of  Labor  and  the  Farmers'  Alliance  have 
united,  and  if  they  can  agree,  they  will  soon  be  victorious,  because  they 
are  in  the  majority.  But  the  question  is :  Can  they  agree  and  stick?  I 
see  that  the  W.C.T.U.  has  swallowed  up  the  Women's  Rights  party 
and  that  it — the  Woman's  Christian  Temperance  Union — has  split 
wide  open.  So  reformers  can't  somehow  agree  and  stick.  I  see  that  the 
idea  of  single  tax  is  growing  and  so  is  communism;  anarchism  and 
other  wild  isms  are  struggling  for  life.  The  devil  seems  to  be  in  hand 
all  around  everywhere. 

Respects  to  all. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENDON. 


Springfield*  IS.,  January  £$,  1890, 
Friend  Weik: 

Yours  of  the  12th  inst.  is  at  hand  and  is  the  most  satisfactory  letter 
yet  received  from  you.  Today  I  send  you  by  express  a  bundle  of  letters. 


24*6  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

etc.,  by  express,  not  having  money  to  pay  postage.  The  letters  you 
can  read  and  burn  up,  unless  there  is  some  other  valuable  matter  in 
them.  There  are  some  important  letters  and  other  matter  from  Hon. 
Ed.  L.  Pierce  of  Milton,  Massachusetts.  I  have  received  two  or  four 
letters  stating  that  the  period  or  time  from  1844  to  '50  was  not  suffi- 
ciently elaborated.  Mr.  Pierce  explains  Lincoln's  first  Eastern  trip 
through  New  England  to  see  Bob,  etc.  There  is  likewise  a  newspaper — 
three  articles  by  Mr.  Pierce — which  is  good.  Please  read  carefully  all 
that  Mr.  Pierce  says  and  write  out  a  good  long  piece  and  insert  in 
our  book  and  give  him  credit  for  it  in  the  note.  This  I  promised  Mr. 
Pierce.  What  he  says  is  important  and  on  a  point  that  none  of  the 
Laves  of  Lincoln  has  touched  upon.  Lincoln  said,  during  this  trip 
East,  his  first  trip,  that  (to  some  city  in  Massachusetts)  "I  under- 
stand you  have  some  abolitionists  out  here.  We  killed  one  out  West  a 
few  months  ago."  This  was  saying  the  wrong  thing  at  the  wrong  place. 
Note  what  Pierce  says  and  quote  it.  In  fact,  read  all  that  Pierce  says 
carefully  and  write  out  a  good  piece  and  insert  in  our  book  and  do 
not  fail  to  give  our  authority.  There  are  some  papers  from  Charles 
Friend  *  of  Kentucky  about  Nancy  Hanks,  Thomas  Lincoln.  From 
this  man's  testimony  it  appears  that  there  was  but  one  Nancy  Hanks 
and,  if  that  is  so,  then  Thomas  Lincoln  married  Dennis  Hanks's 
mother.  Read  what  Charles  Friend  says.  Probably  no  attention  need  be 
paid  to  it,  though  file  away  the  papers  as  evidence. 

You  wish  me  to  read  over  our  book  and  note  mistakes.  Jesse,  when 
I  sent  you  the  corrections,  I  told  you  to  put  the  corrections  on  a 
separate  piece  of  paper  so  that  you  could  refer  to  them  easily  in  mass, 
but  it  seems  "the  gal"  was  uppermost  in  your  mind,  and  so  the  devil  is 
to  pay.  It  is  possible  that  I  can  do  you  no  good,  because  I  have  no 
time  to  reread  and  correct.  You  know  my  pecuniary  conditions  and 
have  to  toil  all  the  time  in  some  way,  in  mind  or  body,  to  get  my  bread 
and  butter.  I  owe  the  bank  here  $21,  and  it  bothers  me  terribly.  If  I 
had  that  sum,  I  could  do  you  good.  This  frets  and  annoys  me  so  that 
I  cannot  read  or  think. 

I  wish  you  would  write  out  a  short  eulogy  on  Lincoln's  virtue  during 
his  married  life.  Lincoln,  I  know,  as  well  as  I  know  anything,  was  true 
to  his  wife,  to  his  marriage  vow.  His  idea  was  that  a  woman  had  the 
same  right  to  play  with  her  tail  that  a  man  had,  and  no  more  nor  less, 

i  See  pp.  340^-848.  — — — 


I*ETTEKS    ymOM     HSENBON  247 


and  that  he  had  no  moral  or  other  right  to  violate  the  sacred  marriage 
vow.  I  have  heard  him  saj  it  a  dozen  or  more  times.  '^Lincoln's  honor," 
as  Judge  Davis  said,  "saved  many  a  worn  an,  w  This  is  true  to  my  own 
knowledge.  I  have  seen  women  make  advances  and  I  have  seen  Lincoln 
reject  or  refuse  them.  Lincoln  had  terribly  strong  passions  for  woman, 
could  scarcely  keep  his  hands  off  them,  and  yet  he  had  honor  and  a 
strong  will,  and  these  enabled  him  to  put  out  the  fires  of  his  terrible 
passion.  It  is  a  physiological  truth  that  most  male  consumptives  have 
goatish  passions.  This  eulogistic  piece  should  have  gone  in  the  first 
edition  of  our  book  but  was  somehow  overlooked.  Don't  fail  to  put  it 
in  the  second  edition.  It  would  have  done  us  good  then  and  will  now. 

Your  request  to  search  our  book  over  and  make  notes  of  errors,  etc.t 
for  the  second  edition  comes  like  a  clap  of  lightning  from  a  clear  sky.  I 
cannot  do  as  you  request,  do  what  you  wish,  as  quick  as  lightning 
"ai  once."  Had  I  known  it  in  time,  I  could  have  done  as  you  wish, 
but  I  cannot  now  "at  once"  do  it  quicker  than  lightning.  You  will  have 
to  run  over  my  letters  and  pick  out  what  corrections  I  have  made  to 
you  heretofore  —  sorry  for  it,  but  can't  help  it  now.  .  .  . 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  IS.,  February  8, 1890. 
Friend  Jesse : 

Your  letter  of  the  31st  nit.  Is  at  hand.  I  am  much  obliged  to  you 
for  it  and  especially  for  the  twenty-one  dollars*  accommodation.  When 
I  wrote  to  you  my  letter  about  money  I  was  gloomy,  but  did  not  intend 
to  ask  you  for  it,  was  only  stating,  as  it  were  to  myself,  the  Skeol 
I  was  in  and  as  an  excuse  to  you  why  I  could  do  nothing  to  assist  in 
the  correction  of  the  book.  However,  I  am  more  obliged  to  you  than 
ever  because  the  advance  was  voluntary  and  of  your  own  good  free 
will.  The  loan  puts  my  feet  on  solid  ground  once  more.  You  must 
believe  me  when  I  say  I  thank  you  a  thousand  times  for  the  money.  .  .  . 

I  am  glad  to  know  that  the  letters  from  others  which  I  have  sent 
you  please  Jesse.  I  want  Jesse  pleased  and  his  hopes  lifted  up,  glad 
he  is  out  of  his  blues,  out  of  his  ^ass-despair,  and  in  full  blooming 
hope.  Why,  Jesse,  if  you  could  know  all  the  compliments  which  I 
receive  by  letter  and  in  the  city  from  all  classes,  strangers  loo, 


248  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

would  feel  good  all  over.  If  I  can  find  some  more  letters  like  those 
which  I  have  sent  you,  and  I  have  them,  I'll  send  to  you.  You  know 
that  I  am  careless  with  my  letters,  as  a  general  thing,  but  I'll  save 
good  ones  and  send  to  you.  Do  not  despair  of  our  book.  You  once  said 
to  me  substantially  this :  that  the  popularity  of  our  book  would  not 
depend  on  what  critics,  good  and  bad,  said,  but  would  depend  on 
what  was  said  by  word  and  what  went  from  mouth  to  mouth,  and 
that  is  true  and  ever  will  be.  You  may  write  to  Mrs.  Curtis  and  others 
if  you  think  prudent,  but  let  Providence  be  your  guide.  By  the  way, 
Nicolay  and  Hay,  I  think,  have  given  us  a  back-handed  lick,  a  mali- 
cious hit,  it  may  be.  See  Century  page  574,  second  column  at  the  top. 
Keep  cool  and  say  nothing.  As  to  the  man  Powers,  he  is  a  poor  devil 
who  keeps  the  monument  affair  and  who  has  been  accused  of  extortion 
from  visitors  to  the  monument.  This  has  been  said  publicly.  This  man 
is  a  fool  and  so  let  him  pass  as  unworthy  of  notice.  I  know  the  man 
and  I  say  he  is  an  ass  and  a  poor  ass  at  that.  I  guess  that  N.  and  H. 
are  envious,  that's  what's  the  matter.  *  ,  . 

You  know  that  I  have  never  said  anything  to  you,  or  to  anyone 
else  for  that  matter,  that  was  not  true,  not  the  fact,  and  so  I  promise 
you  to  be  as  vigilant  as  I  can  be  under  all  circumstances.  You  know 
that  a  man  who  has  to  struggle  today  for  his  tomorrow's  bread  is 
rather  a  poor  hand  in  mental  work  or  in  literature.  Don't  know  what 
stirred  up  Powers  except  natural  "cussedness." 

You  ask  me  to  make  some  notes  of  my  life  and  send  to  you  for  pub- 
lication. I'll  do  so,  but  they  will  be  few  and  of  no  value  to  anyone.  Do 
you  want  them  for  Appleton's  Biographical  Dictionary?  That  firm 
has  likewise  written  to  me  for  some  facts  of  my  life. 

Enclosed  you  will  find  a  good  letter  from  ex-Senator  Fowler,  once 
Senator  from  Tennessee.  He  speaks  fairly  and  is  a  personal  friend 
of  mine.  He  and  I  became  acquainted  in  this  city  about  1865,  possibly 
before  this.  I've  a  good  letter  from  General  James  Grant  Wilson.  .  .  . 
Grant  Wilson  says  it  is,  our  Life,  an  admirable  work. 

What  I  said  to  you  about  B.,  C.  &  Co.  was  said  to  arouse  you  to 
watchfulness,  no  more.  Keep  your  eyes  wide  open  on  B.,  C,  &  Co. 
Do  you  never  doubt? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H. 
P.S.  The  Lord  be  praised  for  your  loan.    H, 


BETTERS    FEOM     HEXK0ON  249 

SprmgfeU*  IU.,  March  7, 1890. 
Friend  Weik : 

.  „  .  What  you  state  about  the  English  edition  of  our  book  is  more 
or  less  satisfactory,  and  yet  I  would  suggest  that  you  find  out  the  all, 
the  whole  of  the  thing.  What  Mr.  Bartlett  says  about  "Bo&"  he 
thinks  is  true,  doubtless  has  been  so  informed.  I  have  faith  in  Bartlett. 
I  hope  that  the  second  edition  of  our  book  will  soon  be  issued  and 
quickly  sold,  want  to  see  the  third  edition  badly,  as  it  will  contain 
many  new  and  important  facts ;  glad  that  you  begin  to  hope,  for  you 
say  that  the  book  is  on  the  upgrade ;  glad  that  you  have  got  some  new 
and  good  letters  on  your  own  account,  doing  justice  to  our  book ;  yes, 
Fll  send  all  the  good  letters  which  come  to  me.  I  am  glad  that  Horace 
White  proposes  to  write  us  out  his  ideas  on  L.'s  campaign  in  '58,  it 
will  be  good ;  glad  that  you  have  personally  got  much  and  good  new 
matter  when  you  know  that  I  have  been  corresponding  for  some  years. 
His  letter  is  dated  November  17, 1889  and  is  from  France.  If  Robert 
is  able  and  willing  to  buy  up  whole  editions  of  our  book,  we  can  sup- 
ply him  to  his  heart's  content,  can  do  so  I  suppose  every  month  or 
so.  If  no  one  in  London  will  sell  the  books,  we  can  land  them  on  the 
wharf  and  notify  the  minister  of  the  fact.  Weik,  I  always  thought  Bob 

a  weak  brother,  but  never  thought  that  he  was  such  a  d d  fool. 

Why,  his  acts  in  this  matter  are  little,  mean,  malicious.  He  is  a  Todd 
and  not  a  Lincoln,  is  a  little  bitter  fellow  of  the  pig-headed  kind,  silly 
and  cold  and  selfish.  I  do  not  think  that  he  will  suppress  the  book  in 
this  way.  The  book  will  live  and  be  read  when  he  is  dead  and  forgotten, 
or  only  remembered  by  his  name  being  in  the  book.  This  is  my  judg- 
ment. I  suppose  that  Bob  will  cremate  the  Life  of  his  father  and 
scatter  the  ashes  in  the  Thames  or  over  the  sea.  If  this  will  satisfy  his 
little  soul,  let  him  alone  in  his  glory.  Success  to  him  in  his  efforts  to 
suppress  the  truth.  Can  he  stop  the  sun  from  shining?  If  you  think 
prudent,  you  can  copy  the  above  quotation,  the  foregoing  one,  and 
send  it  to  Belford,  Clarke  &  Co.  It  may  be  an  act  of  justice  to  notify 
them  of  what  my  correspondent  says,  but  in  no  case  is  my  name  nor  my 
correspondent's  name  to  be  made  public.  I  want  no  controversy  with 
Robert  on  his  father's  account.  I  respect  him  so  much,  worship  him* 
if  you  please,  that  I  do  not  want  any  words  with  Bob.  I  cannot  help 
but  feel  kindly  toward  the  little  fellow.  Tell  B.,  C.  &  Co.  that  my  na«e 
as  well  as  my  correspondent's  must  in  no  case  be  made  public  if  tlaey 


150  THE     HIDBEN     LINCOLN 

use  it  in  any  way.  I  see  no  impropriety  in  sending  to  B.,  C.  &  Co.  the 
quotations,  but  you  think  about  it. 

Occasionally  I  get  letters  highly  complimentary  of  our  book.  One 
man  from  Pennsylvania  says :  "I  see  by  the  papers  that  your  book  has 
been  well  received ;  it  does  not  surprise  me,  as  such  a  grand  work  will 
have  a  large  sale."  Others  say  substantially :  "Thank  heavens  that  we 
have  at  last  a  true  Life  of  Lincoln,  one  that  we  can  swear  by."  It  is 
a  curious  fact,  Jesse,  that  no  man,  no  critic,  no  reader,  ever  doubts 
the  truth,  fullness,  of  our  book.  I  have  never  heard  or  read  that  any 
person  doubts  the  facts  or  opinions  in  the  Life  of  Lincoln.  The  book 
must  sell  and  sell  well  as  long  as  men  love  the  truth  more  than  false- 
hood. All  the  good  people  want  is  a  good  chance  to  get  the  book,  and 
you  are  the  man  to  hustle  it  along,  push  it  vigorously  so  that  the  world 
can  get  it  easily  and  cheaply.  The  reason  the  folks  do  not  write  to 
you  is  because  they  do  not  know  where  you  live.  A  Mr.  Wilson  from 
Maryland  says:  "The  book  is  as  interesting  as  a  novel,  etc.,"  and 
so  it  runs.  I  know  that  some  of  our  books  have  gone  to  Germany  and 
France,  because  men  of  veracity  have  told  me  that  they  have  sent 
them  themselves. 

Jesse,  do  not  now  come  here  till  the  weather  is  settled,  say  Decem- 
ber 20,  or  better  January  1.  You  know  that  I  am  tolerably  old  and 
do  not  wish  to  wade  or  swim  to  the  city,  mud,  mud,  mud,  and  nothing 
but  mud. 

Your  friend, 

W.  EL  HEBNDON. 

I'll  come  anyhow  on  three  or  four  days*  notice,  mud  or  no  mud,  but 
would  prefer  about  January  1 .  H. 


Sf  ring-field,  JZZ.,  AprU  4, 1890. 
Friend  Weik: 

Enclosed  you  will  find  a  letter  of  mine  written  to  C.  O.  Poole,  my 
old  friend,  which  was  published  in  the  New  York  Sun  of  March  24, 
18$0.  The  little  slip  accompanying  the  letter  will  explain  why  it  was 
written.  It  was  a  hasty  letter,  not  written  for  publication,  but  I  sup- 
pose it  struck  Poole  and  possibly  the  editor  of  the  Sun.  Please  read 
tlie  letter  over  and  over  and  get  the  spirit  of  it.  Jesse,  there  is  a  good 
chance  for  you  to  write  out  an  eloquent  note.  In  tibe  first  place  Lincoln 


JLBTTEBS     FEOM     HE&HJD0K  251 

placed  his  administrative  abilities  in  his  power  to  rale  men ;  he  said 
this  to  Swett ;  see  our  Life  of  L.,  page  583.  Read  carefully  from  the 
words,  "In  his  conduct  of  the  war,"  down  to  and  including,  **I  have 
kept  these  discordant  elements  together  as  well  as  anyone  could," 
When  this  is  done,  read  his  farewell  Springfield  speech,  wherein  he, 
Lincoln,  appeals  to  the  Christians,  invokes  their  power,  and  winds 
them  around  his  finger.  .  .  .  Then  think  a  little.  When  this  is  done, 
look  at  his  Cabinet,  etc.,  etc.,  and  why  they,  the  members  of  it,  were  so 
appointed,  men  who  opposed  him  in  the  Chicago  convention.  Lincoln 
was  a  shrewd,  sagacious,  long-headed  man,  a  cunning  fox.  From  the 
time  of  his  farewell  Springfield  speech  he  was  at  long-headwork  recon- 
ciling antagonistic  elements,  discordant  elements,  with  which  he  had 
to  deal ;  he  used  all  just  as  he  wished.  I  say  he  used  all  and  made  all  his 
tools ;  he  was  the  superior  of  all  and  governed  all  by  his  intellectual 
superiority.  Now  read  Swett's  letter  as  above  referred  to,  and  you 
will  catch  the  idea  of  the  note  or  piece  which  I  want  you  to  write  out 
fully  and  eloquently.  Read  my  letter  to  Poole  over  and  over;  it  will 
help  you.  Can't  such  a  piece  go  in  the  text  of  the  book?  Lincoln  was  a 
long-headed  old  fox,  a  shrewd  manipulator  of  men,  a  man  full  of  prac- 
tical political  sagacities.  As  Swett  says,  he  was  the  great  American 
trimmer  when  men  had  to  be  used.  What  I  have  said  in  the  Poole  letter 
and  in  this  letter  is  true  of  Lincoln,  true  to  the  letter  and  the  spirit. 

Jesse,  why  don't  you  write  to  me  more  frequently?  I  am  half  dead 
for  a  letter  from  you. 

Your  old  friend, 

W.  H.  HE&NIX>N. 

P.S.  The  note  can  best  come  in  on  page  541,  after  the  words,  "bar- 
gained for/* 

Lincoln's  idea  was,  how  to  make  the  North  ong,  a  solid  and  united 
one, 

By  appointing  these  Cabinet  men  he  made  the  friends  of  each  his 
friends, 


Springfield,  IU,9  Jt%  6,  1890. 
Friend  Jesse: 

Your  letter,  dated  the  28th  wft,,  inclosing  B.,  C.  &  Co.'s  report  or 
statement  of  their  account  with  us,  was  duly  received,  for  both  of 


252  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

which  I  am  much  obliged.  The  statement,  the  report,  is  all  wrong. 
First,  the  last  contract  with  B.,  C.  &  Co.  and  ourselves  requires  the 
binders  and  printers  to  make  a  statement  of  the  number  of  books 
bound  and  the  number  of  books  printed,  etc.  No  such  statements  are 
made  accompanying  B.,  C.  &  Co.'s  report.  Secondly,  it  seems  that, 
from  the  account  furnished  us  by  B.,  C.  &  Co.,  we  are  charged  with 
416  copies  of  our  book  sent  to  editors,  possibly  you  as  editor.  Now 
what  right  has  B.,  C.  &  Co.  to  give  away  416  copies  of  our  book? 
B.,  C.  &  Co.  agree  to  give  us  a  royalty  25^  for  every  book  sold  or  set 
of  books  sold.  If  they,  B.,  C.  &  Co.,  thus  paid  their  advertisement  ac- 
count with  the  papers,  then  so  many  sets  of  the  book  are  sold  and  we 
are  entitled  to  pay  for  the  416  thus  sold.  Where  is  this  army  of  edi- 
tors? Who  are  they  and  where  do  they  live?  416  Eds.!  416  lies,  eh? 
These  416  copies  were  given  away,  if  any  were  given  away,  since  the 
new  edition  was  issued. 

Now,  Jesse,  drop  the  woman  right  off  or  take  one  for  good  right  off, 
"at  once,"  and  sharply  attend  to  our  business  in  a  quick  sharp  busi- 
ness way  and  all  will  yet  go  right.  I  am  determined  not  to  be  swindled. 
I  have  been  warned  of  this  by  different  men  at  different  places  and 
times.  A  screw  is  loose  somewhere  and  the  thing  to  be  done  is  to  find  it 
and  put  it  in  its  place. 

I  have  kept  B.,  C.  &  Co.'s  statement.  Write  to  them  for  another  and 
hereafter  require  duplicate  statements  in  order  to  save  trouble.  Please 
read  the  two  contracts  over  and  over  carefully,  study  them  and  stand 
square  on  them  and  enforce  them.  Look  sharply  into  things,  keeping 
your  eyes  open,  and  while  thus  acting  hunt  up  my  last  three  letters  and 
answer  the  various  questions — do,  please. 

Jesse,  I  speak  to  you  in  a  friendly  way,  but  am  firm  in  my  deter- 
minations not  to  be  swindled. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON, 


Sprwgfield,  HI.,  Jtdy  $5, 1890. 
Friend  Jesse: 

Your  good  letter,  not  to  say  excellent,  dated  the  20th  in&t.,  was  duly 
received,  ...  I  have  always  thought  that  something  was  wrong  and 
am  glad  to  know  that  part  of  the  wrong  going  and  wrongdoing  is  to  be 


LETTERS     FEOM     HEBNPON  253 

attributed  to  bad  agency  and  other  crooked  management  of  the 
firm.  .  .  . 

You  ask  me  to  write  out  the  story  of  how  I  did  %t%  etc.  I  will  send  you 
a  note  of  it  soon ;  am  busy  as  a  bee  in  selling  my  vegetables,  fruits,  etc., 
in  order  to  live.  Jesse,  it's  a  bad  thing  to  be  poor,  ain't  it? 

.  .  .  By  the  way,  Jesse,  there  is  a  healthy  change  going  on  about 
our  book.  Men  who  cursed  it  when  it  first  appeared  now  say  upon  the 
whole  it  is  a  good  book.  The  second  sober  thought  will  bring  men 
around  to  the  truth  or  the  love  of  it  at  last.  Whether  the  book  pays 
right  now  or  not,  one  thing  is  certain,  and  that  is :  that  the  book  will 
live.  As  the  race  of  man  progresses,  the  more  the  race  loves  truth.  Men 
in  this  particular  get  braver  every  day.  I  can  feel  that  in  my  bones. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEENBOH. 


Spriiigfield,  III,  Septeniber  $4>  1890. 
Friend  Weik : 

Enclosed  is  a  letter  from  McArthur  which  you  may  wish  to  see.  .  .  . 
I  send  you  likewise  a  letter  from  Mr.  King,  an  old  abolitionist,  friend 
of  mine,  is  truthful.  He  says  that  Alsop,  another  old  abolitionist  and 
friend  of  mine,  and  himself  got  the  anti-slavery  men  generally  to  vote 
for  Lincoln  in  *4#  in  this,  then  Lincoln's,  district.  I  have  no  doubt  of 
the  truth  of  this,  none  at  all.  This  will  account  for  Lincoln's  over- 
whelming majority  over  Peter  Cartwright.  I  think  Erastus  Wright, 
the  pension  man,  opposed  Lincoln.  You  can  make  a  note  of  these  facts, 
or  fact.  .  .  .  King's  letter  I  have  answered,  giving  him  and  Alsop 
great  credit  for  what  they  and  friends  did  in  the  matter.  They  in- 
creased Lincoln's  majority  greatly.  This  I  know  of  my  own  knowl- 
edge. King  and  Alsop  were  strong  leaders  of  the  anti-slavery  cause  in 
Lincoln's  district  in  ?46. 

About  the  year  *56  a  gentleman  from  Chicago  by  the  name  of 
Z.  Eastman,  editor  of  an  anti-slavery  paper  in  Chicago,  came  into  my 
office  and  introduced  himself  to  me.  After  some  general  and  running 
conversation  on  this  subject  and  that,  Mr.  Eastman  said  to  me: 
"Herndon,  I  know  you  as  a  firm  and  true  anti-slavery  man,  but  we 
anti-slavery  men  North  don't  know  Mr.  Lincoln  so  well.  What  are  his 
ideas  on  slavery  and  can  we  trust  him?"  I  said  to  Mr.  Eastman  in  re- 


254  THE     H  IB  DEN 

ply :  "Mr.  Lincoln  is  a  natural-born  anti-slavery  man,  and  now  you  go 
home  and  use  the  influence  of  your  paper  for  Lincoln."  (This  paper 
was  the  predecessor  of  the  Chicago  Tribune  or  the  Press  and  Tribune, 
I  forget  exactly  which,  think  it  was  the  Tribune.)  "Can  you  trust 
yourself?"  I  said  further  to  Mr.  Eastman.  "And  if  you  can,  then  you 
can  trust  Lincoln,  for  God  will  keep  him  right.  Now  you  keep  the  peo- 
ple right  and,  as  to  Lincoln,  you  can  trust  [him].  Tell  our  friends  in 
Chicago  and  elsewhere  to  trust/'  Mr.  Eastman  was  a  committee  man 
from  Chicago  who  was  appointed  to  investigate,  etc.  He  went  home  to 
Chicago  and  opened  his  paper,  as  far  as  he  could,  for  Lincoln.  This 
is  how  the  anti-slavery  men  in  Illinois  were  such  strong  friends  of  Mr. 
Lincoln.  Eastman  was  appointed,  by  Mr.  Lincoln,  United  States  Con- 
sul to  Great  Britain  as  I  remember  it.  Mr.  Eastman  and  myself  have 
written  to  each  other  since  this  matter  transpired.  In  this  conversa- 
tion Mr.  Eastman  asked  me  if  it  would  not  be  wise  for  the  anti-slavery 
men  to  go  into  the  Know-Nothing  lodges  and  rule  them.  I  said  to  him : 
"No,  never  do  this  wrong  to  our  cause.  We  are  for  the  broadest  liberty 
for  all  men.**  I  have  cut  things  short.  Our  conversation  in  *56  was 
probably  two  or  three  hours  long  and  much  was  said  of  Lincoln,  slav- 
ery, the  anti-slavery  cause,  the  progress  of  it,  hopes,  etc.,  etc.  I  have 
forgotten  the  name  of  Eastman's  paper,  have  once  or  twice  called  or 
said  it  was  the  Star,  but  I  think  I  was  wrong  in  this.  The  Tribune  men 
can  tell  you. 

Let  me  tell  you  something  else  which  I  distinctly  remember ;  see  our 
Life  of  Lincoln,  pages  367-8,  and  read  what  I  said  as  editorial  in  the 
Journal.  You  will  perceive  in  the  piece  that  Douglas  frequently  inter- 
rupted Lincoln,  and  now  as  to  the  why  of  it.  Lincoln  in  opening  his 
speech  said  this :  "I  willingly  give  Senator  Douglas,  who  now  sits  in 
front  of  me,  the  privilege  of  correcting  me  where  I  am  wrong  in  the 
facts  about  the  whole  matter  of  the  Kansas-Nebraska  Bill,  which  was 
introduced  by  the  Senator  himself  and  which  is  the  offspring  of  the 
ambition  and  goal  of  slavery ;  I  say  that  I  extend  to  him  the  privilege 
of  correcting  me  in  my  facts  and  not  in  my  inferences,  as  they  are  sub 
ject  of  dispute  among  men  and  would  cause  too  many  collateral  issues 
to  be  raised  and  of  no  value  to  the  main  subject."  Mr.  Douglas  was  ir- 
ritated and  thoroughly  aroused;  he  made  statements  often,  and  ir- 
rekvant  ernes,  under  the  privilege  of  correcting  facts.  This  was  about 
t0  Interrupt  and  break  the  thread  of  it,  Mr.  Lincoln's  speech,  as  a 


LBTTE&S     FROM    HEENBOK  255 

whole  and  set  speech,  when  Mr.  Lincoln  said:  "I  revoke,  I  withdraw, 
what  I  have  said  to  the  Honorable  Senator  as  to  privilege  and  shall 
assert  what  I  do  assert  on  my  own  responsibility."  This  ended  the  an- 
noyance to  Lincoln  and  to  the  vast  crowd  in  the  hall.  Douglas  saw  and 
took  a  mean  advantage  of  the  privilege  granted  to  him  by  Lincoln ;  he 
made  statements  about  things  not  in  dispute  nor  bearing  on  the  issues 
in  dispute  nor  debate.  In  my  opinion  he  did  so  to  interrupt  Lincoln  and 
fret  him  and  thus  destroy  the  effect  of  L.'s  speech.  All  this  I  saw  and 
heard  and  distinctly  remember  it. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HBENBOK. 


Springfield,  IU.,  October  S,  1890. 
Friend  Jesse : 

I  take  it  for  granted  that  you  are  not  of  this  world  just  now,  nor 
will  you  be  for  some  time ;  but  when  you  do  come  to  earth,  you  can  read 
this  letter  at  your  leisure  or  throw  it  away.  .  *  . 

I  wish  to  relate  to  you  an  important  fact.  Soon  after  the  assassina- 
tion of  Mr.  Lincoln,  I  interviewed  Mr.  Judd,  two  or  three  times,  in  re- 
lation to  his  knowledge  of  Lincoln  generaUy  and  particularly  about 
what  L.  said  in  reference  to  the  questions  he  intended  to  ask  Douglas 
at  Freeport.  Turn  to  our  Life  of  L.,  410.  Douglas  put  seven  questions 
to  L.  at  Ottawa.  Lincoln  went  to  Chicago  and  had  a  meeting  of  his 
friends  and  told  them  that  he  intended  to  put  four  questions  to  Douglas 
at  Freeport  and  among  those  questions  was  the  second  one  which  was 
substantially  this;  "Can  a  territory  exclude  slavery  from  its  limits 
while  in  a  territorial  condition  or  state?"  At  the  meeting  of  Lincoln's 
friends  at  Dixon  or  Chicago  were  Peck,  Judd,  Ray,  ei  al  All  of  them, 
after  Lincoln  had  read  the  four  questions  to  be  put  to  Douglas  at  Free- 
port,  objected  to  them  and  said  in  substance  that  Douglas  would  not 
positively  answer  the  question  directly  and  that,  if  he  did,  it  would 
be  in  the  affirmative  and  that  would  elect  him  to  the  Senate  again. 
**It  is  none  of  your  business,  Mr.  Lincoln,  particularly  to  put  the 
question  because  you  are  the  candidate  for  the  United  States  Senate, 
and  that  is  your  particular  business,"  said  Lincoln's  friends.  Lin* 
coin  replied :  "Douglas  will  answer  the  question  as  soon  as  asked  aaci^ 
if  he  does  not,  I  will  push  him  to  the  wall  at  every  joint  defe&te  or 


256  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

wherever  I  shall  speak,  otherwise  than  in  joint  debate,  and  the  sooner 
Douglas  answers,  the  better  for  him.  The  people  demand  a  direct  an- 
swer." "Douglas  will  answer  in  some  glittering  generalities  and  evade 
the  question,"  said  Peck,  Ray,  et  al.  "Yes,  he  will  answer  directly," 
said  Lincoln ;  and  to  which  Lincoln's  friends  said :  "To  put  the  ques- 
tion is  none  of  your  business,  Mr.  Lincoln,"  and  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln 
said:  "Yes,  it  is  my  business,  and  if  Douglas  answers  the  question, 
which  he  will,  either  way  he  is  a  dead  cock  in  the  pit."  Mr.  Lincoln  here 
went  into  a  kind  of  argument  to  convince  his  friends  that  he  was  right 
and  concluded  by  saying:  "I  am  after  larger  game.  The  battle  of 
1860  is  worth  a  hundred  of  this."  .  .  .  Lincoln  evidently  wanted  to 
kill  Douglas  politically  and  did  it  effectively.  I  say  that  Judd  told  me 
what  Lincoln  said  in  the  meeting  of  friends  at  Dixon  or  Chicago,  I 
think  Chicago,  though  White  says  that  the  meeting  was  at  Dixon. 
Probably  he  is  correct.  Though  Peck,  Ray,  Judd,  et  al.,  say  that  Lin- 
coln uttered  the  above  words,  still  I  doubt  the  exact  words,  because,  as 
you  well  know,  Mr.  Lincoln  was  one  of  the  most  secretive  men  that  ever 
lived.  The  expression  means  that  "I  am  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency 
of  the  United  States  of  America.  That  is  what  I  am  fighting  for."  I  do 
not  think  that  Mr.  Lincoln  ever  uttered  the  words  as  stated,  though  he 
looked  at  the  time  for  the  office.  I  think  at  most  that  the  words  as 
above  are  inferences,  legitimate  ones.  Lincoln  never  told  mortal  man 
his  purposes  and  plans — never.  Evidently  L.  beat  around  the  bush. 
As  I  think  of  things,  I'll  write  you. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON* 

P.S.  When  you  come  to  this  sphere  of  man  and  mud,  you  will  please 
write  to  me. 


Springfield,  Itt.,  December  4, 1890. 
Friend  Weik: 

In  my  last  letter  to  you  I  stated  that  I  had  something  to  tell  you 
about  Lincoln  which  took  place  in  *54,  October,  I  think.  I  will  now 
state  it  and,  as  you  were  present,  you  may  remember  it,  and  if  you  do 
not,  this  may  refresh  your  memory.  If  you  will  turn  to  my  Life  of  Lin- 
coln and  read  a  short  piece  of  editorial  for  our  Journal  written  by  me, 
page  S68»  on  tte  evening  of  the  speech,  yoti  will  see  that  I  stated  that 


LETTESS     P  It  031     HEENDON  257 

Douglas  frequently  Interrupted  Mr.  Lincoln  during  his  speech.  In 
reading  your  excellent  letter  to  me  of  February  27,  1890,  and  at  the 
beginning  of  it  you  speak  to  me  at  least,  feelingly  and  eloquently,  of 
Lincoln  and  his  speech  in  554.  Your  remarks  in  that  letter  to  me,  the 
one  which  constitutes  a  chapter  in  the  Life  of  Lincoln  and  spoken  of 
above,  caused  me  to  be  put  in  the  same  state,  condition,  consciousness, 
that  I  was  in  on  the  moment  of  the  debate,  and  I  saw  everything,  heard 
everything,  as  on  the  moment  of  the  speech,  after  reading  your  re- 
marks in  the  letter  spoken  of.  We  are  curious  creatures  and  the  mind 
and  its  laws  are  a  riddle  to  me.  Is  it  not  true  that  we  remember  things 
once  supposed  to  be  lost  forever  by  being  put  in  the  same  state  as  we 
were  when  we  saw  or  heard  the  thing? 

Mr.  Lincoln,  after  opening  his  speech  and  clearing  away  the  under- 
brush so  that  he  might  have  a  clear  and  open  view  of  things,  said  sub- 
stantially this :  "I  give  Senator  Douglas  the  privilege  of  correcting 
me  in  any  facts  which  I  shall  state,  but  not  the  inferences  which  I  shall 
draw  from  them,  as  they  are  the  nib  of  the  whole  question  and  would 
open  too  broad  a  field  of  debate  now  and  here."  Douglas  sat  right 
under  Lincoln  and  was  a  little  "cocked"  at  the  time.  For  some  time 
Douglas  made  no  corrections  nor  suggestions  but,  as  Lincoln  pro- 
ceeded, Douglas  got  hot  and  a  little  vexed,  if  not  angry.  Lincoln  be- 
gan to  get  warmer  and  struck  harder  and  heavier  blows,  and  then  it 
was  that  Douglas  quite  every  moment  made  some  sideshow,  so-called 
corrections  of  unimportant  things,  collateral  ones  not  in  issue  at  all  in 
any  way.  The  large  audience  saw  and  felt  that  Douglas  was  taking  a 
mean  advantage  of  Lincoln*s  granted  privilege  to  him.  The  crowd  at 
last  got  angry  and  showed  its  feelings  in  different  ways  though  not  in- 
appropriately, not  boisterously,  generally.  Lincoln  himself  began  to 
feel,  and  I  could  see  in  his  eyes  a  little  ill  feeling.  You  know  that  I  un- 
derstood Lincoln,  I  think,  inside  and  outside.  The  crowd  got  madder 
and  madder  at  the  foolish  corrections  so  called  made  by  Douglas,  Men 
were  uneasy  and  restless  and  the  women,  God  bless  *em,  said  by  their 
acts :  "Sit  down,  Mr,  Douglas."  Lincoln  got  more  angry  every  mo- 
ment and  at  last  in  self-defense,  rising  to  his  full  height  coolly,  calmly, 
said :  "Senator  Douglas,  I  withdraw  the  privilege  of  correcting  me 
which  I  gave  you  a  moment  ago,  and  now,  friends,  the  facts  which  I 
shall  hereafter  state  I  shall  state  on  my  own  responsibility.3*  Wlfeen 
tibls  was  said,  I  could  see  smiles  of  approbation  run  over  the  faees  of 


258  THE     HIDDEN    XI2TCOLN 

the  crowd  and  all  was  calm,  peaceful,  and  pleasant  after  that.  Before 
this,  things  looked  a  little  "scary/5  "fighty,"  in  one  corner  of  the  hall 
I  took  notes  of  his,  L.'s,  speech  and  loaned  them  to  Governor  Yates, 
who  made  in  *56  and  '58  many  good  speeches  from  them.  I  was  up  in 
the  gallery  on  the  little  elevation  near  the  speaker.  My  piece  in  the 
Journal  shows  my  honest  opinion  of  Lincoln's  speech  and  of  the  ap- 
pearance and  actions  of  Douglas.  The  reason  why  I  have  written 
this  to  you  is  that  you  may  wish  to  make  a  note  of  it  some  time  for 
your  letter  to  me. 

I  wish  now  to  make  another  statement.  If  you  remember,  you  once 
asked  me  if  the  text  in  Lamon's  Life  of  Lincoln  was  correct,  page  396, 
as  I  remember  it,  and  in  answer  to  which  question  I  said :  "It  was  sub- 
stantially correct,"  and  I  say  so  now.  Our  Judge  J.  EL  Matheny  said 
to  me,  only  a  month  or  so  before  he  died,  which  was  some  two  months 
since,  that  he  heard  Lincoln  say  in  substance :  "If  Douglas  can  draw 
off  such  and  such  men  from  the  cause  of  Republicanism  and  be  made 
to  support  him,  who  says  he  does  not  care  whether  slavery  is  voted  up 
or  voted  down,  if  he  can  get  strong  and  influential  leading  Republican 
papers  to  laud  him,  and  if  he  can  attack  and  partly  crush  Buchanan*s 
administration  and  can  get  in  Illinois  so  many  votes  to  Buchanan's 
none,  then  he  will  play  the  devil  at  Charleston."  From  a  letter  of 
yours  written  to  me  a  good  while  ago  I  infer  that  you  did  not  get 
mine  fully  explaining,  or  confirming,  Lamon.  Excuse  a  friend,  won't 
you? 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 


Springfield,  Itt.,  January  6, 1891. 

So  far  as  a  knowledge  of  the  inner  lif e  and  characteristics  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln  are  concerned,  I  consider  JESSE  W.  WEIK  the  best- 
equipped  man  of  his  day  and  generation.  He  was  my  associate  in 
writing  the  Life  of  Lmcoln,  recently  given  to  the  world,  and  is  the 
most  enthusiastic  student  of  Lmcolri**  mamelotis  growth  I  have  ever 
met.  His  zeal  and  indefatigable  search  for  facts  never  allows  him  to 
stop  short  of  the  naked  truth,  and  he  therefore  knows  his  great  sub- 
ject inside  and  outside,  mentally,  morally,  and  physically.  Realising 
tlbat  I  am  BOW  too  old  and  infirm  *  .  .  I  have  turned  over  to  him  afl 


LETTERS     FROM     HEBH00N  259 

the  letters,  manuscripts,  and  other  material  pertaining  to  Lincoln 
which  I  have  been  steadily  gathering  together  since  that  memorable 
day  in  AprU  1865,  when  the  bullet  of  Booth  did  its  fatal  work.  .  .  . 
I  know  that  his  heart  is  in  his  work  and  that  his  love  for  the  Immortal 
raiUplitter  araH  ...  6^  his  greatest  inspiration  .  ,  .  etc. 

[W.  H. 


Springfield*  IU.9  January  1891. 
Friend  Weik: 

When  I  was  in  Greencastle  in  1887  I  said  to  you  that  Lincoln  had, 
when  a  mere  boy,  the  syphilis,  and  now  let  me  explain  the  matter  in 
full,  which  I  have  never  done  before.  About  the  year  1835-36  Mr. 
Lincoln  went  to  Beardstown  and  during  a  devilish  passion  had  con- 
nection with  a  girl  and  caught  the  disease.  Lincoln  told  me  this  and  in  a 
moment  of  folly  I  made  a  note  of  it  in  my  mind  and  afterwards  I  trans- 
ferred it,  as  it  were,  to  a  little  memorandum  book  which  I  loaned  to 
Lamon,  not,  as  I  should  have  done,  erasing  that  note.  About  the  year 
1836—37  Lincoln  moved  to  Springfield  and  took  up  his  quarters  with 
Speed ;  they  became  very  intimate.  At  this  time  I  suppose  that  the  dis- 
ease hung  to  him  and,  not  wishing  to  trust  our  physicians,  wrote  a 
note  to  Doctor  Drake,  the  latter  part  of  which  he  would  not  let 
Speed  see,  not  wishing  Speed  to  know  it.  Speed  said  to  me  that  Lin- 
coln would  not  let  him  see  a  part  of  the  note.  Speed  wrote  to  me  a  let- 
ter saying  that  he  supposed  L.'s  letter  to  Doctor  Drake  had  reference 
to  his,  L.*s,  crazy  spell  about  the  Ann  Rutledge  love  affair,  etc.,  and 
her  death.  You  will  find  Speed's  letter  to  me  in  our  Life  of  Lincoln. 
The  note  to  Doctor  Drake  in  part  had  reference  to  his  disease  and  not 
to  his  crazy  spell,  as  Speed  supposes.  The  note  spoken  of  in  the  memo- 
randum book  was  a  loose  affair,  and  I  never  intended  that  the  world 
should  see  or  hear  of  it.  I  now  wish  and  for  years  have  wished  that  the 
note  was  blotted  out  or  burned  to  ashes.  I  write  this  to  you,  fearing 
that  at  some  future  time  the  note — a  loose  thing  as  to  date,  place,  and 
circumstances — will  come  to  light  and  be  misunderstood.  Lincoln  was 
a  man  of  terribly  strong  passions,  but  was  true  as  steel  to  his  wife 
during  his  whole  marriage  life ;  his  honor,  as  Judge  Davis  has  said, 
saved  many  a  woman,  and  it  is  most  emphatically  true,  as  I  know*  I 
write  this  to  you  to  explain  the  whole  matter  for  the  future  if  it  should 


260  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

become  necessary  to  do  so.  I  deeply  regret  my  part  of  the  affair  in 
every  particular. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HERNDON. 

P.S.  Mrs.  Dale  was  my  guest  for  several  days,  say  in  *71,  and  she  saw 
that  memorandum  book  and  took  some  notes  of  its  contents,  and  it 
may  some  time  come  to  light  from  that  quarter,  and  so  you  have  this 
as  my  defense.  H. 


Springfield,  7ZZ.,  February  5, 1891. 
Friend  Jesse: 

I  want  to  give  you  a  kind  of  bribery  story  about  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln which  took  place  soon  after  Lincoln  was  elected  President.  The 
story  comes  through  Hermann  Kreismann,  who  was  appointed  by  Lin- 
coln secretary  of  legation,  when  Judd  was  appointed  Minister  to  Ger- 
many. Kreismann  is  a  gentleman  apd  can  be  relied  on.  The  story  is  as 
follows.  One  Henderson  of  New  York  wished  to  be  appointed  to  some 
office  in  the  Custom  House  of  New  York.  To  get  the  office  he  sent  to 
Mrs,  Lincoln,  in  care  of  some  jewelry  house  in  this  city,  a  diamond 
brooch  to  be  given  to  her  upon  the  condition  that  he  could  get  the 
promise  of  the  office  from  Mrs.  L.  Kreismann  and  Judd  come  to  Spring- 
field on  some  important  business  and  were  to  meet  Lincoln  at  some 
place  by  appointment,  but  he  did  not  come  as  agreed,  Mrs.  Lincoln 
having  cornered  him  and  he  could  not  get  away.  Mrs.  Lincoln  got  the 
diamond  brooch,  having  promised  Henderson  to  get  the  office  for  him. 
Kreismann  was  dispatched  to  hunt  up  Lincoln.  He  went  to  Lincoln's 
house  and  was  ushered  in,  in  a  hurry  and  probably  by  the  servant,  she 
not  telling  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Kreismann  found  Mrs.  L.  in  a  hysterical  fit, 
cutting  up  like  a  crazy  woman.  She  was  begging  Lincoln  to  appoint 
Henderson.  Lincoln  refused  several  times  but  Mrs.  L.  kept  up  her 
yells,  her  hysterical  fit,  till  Lincoln,  in  order  to  get  rid  of  the  woman 
and  quiet  the  fit,  did  promise  Mrs.  L.  that  Henderson  should  have  the 
office,  and  Henderson  got  it  according  to  promise.  Henderson  was 
subsequently  indicted  in  the  United  States  court  for  defrauding  the 
government  but  was  acquitted  on  some  technical  point.  Henderson 
inew  how  to  reach  Mrs.  L.  and  did  reach  her  in  Henderson*s  way. 
Lincoln,  to  keep  quiet  in  his  house  and  to  get  the  woman's  fingers  out 


X.ETTERS     FEOM     HEENBON  261 

of  his  hair,  did  a  wrong  thing,  if  he  knew  why  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  so 
anxious  for  Henderson's  appointment.  Such  is  woman  and  such  is  man 
the  world  over,  weak  creatures  indeed.  Lincoln  must  have  had  an  idea 
of  the  motives  and  the  cause  of  them  that  prompted  Mrs.  Lincoln  to 
want  Henderson  appointed.  By  the  way,  Lincoln  had  no  true  notions 
of  the  propriety  of  things,  as  a  general  rule.  I  suppose  that  in  this  case 
Lincoln  did  not  know  what  to  do.  The  devil  was  after  him  and  he  stum- 
bled. Poor  bedeviled  fellow,  unfortunate  man ! 

Bob  Lincoln  was  in  this  city  about  six  weeks  since,  came  here  to 
bury  his  son,  and  while  here  someone,  probably  a  friend  of  mine,  asked 
Bob  if  he  had  seen  Herndon's  Life  of  Lincoln,  and  to  which  question  he 
replied :  "No,  nor  do  I  wish  to  see  it."  In  this  I  rather  think  that  "our 
minister  to  England"  was  a  little  mistaken,  if  I  have  heard  the  truth. 
You  must  remember  that  Bob  is  not  his  "daddy"  nor  like  him  in  any 
respect  whatever.  Bob  is  little,  proud,  aristocratic,  and  haughty,  is 
his  mother's  "baby"  all  through.  He  will  never  be  President,  though 
ambitious  for  it. 

How  is  your  clerk  and  is  she  helping  you?  When  I  was  younger  than 
I  am  now  and  wished  to  say  something  smart,  I  took  a  toddy  as  exciter* 
but  your  pretty  wife  will  be  your  stimulant  and  tonic.  Give  her  my 
wannest  regards,  and  if  you  will  let  me,  I  will  say  give  her  my  love. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HESNDOX. 


Springfield,  IU.,  February  IS,  1891. 
Mr.  Bartlett. 
My  dear  Friend : 

Your  note,  dated  the  5th  mst^  is  now  before  me,  stating  that  you 
are  back  to  America  again  and  intend  to  stay  at  home  where  men  are 
free.  I  am  glad  to  hear  you  say  that  and  am  pleased  to  know  that  you 
are  at  home,  am  very  glad  to  hear  from  you  at  all  times,  and  especially 
now.  I  thank  you  for  your  opinion  of  my  book,  but  regret  to  say  that 
it  has  not  paid  me  anything  as  yet.  The  publishers,  Belford,  Clarke 
&  Co.  of  New  York,  "busted"  some  years  or  so  since,  are  men  of  no 
capital  or  brains.  Privately  I  had  to  take  the  business  out  of  tbeir 
hands  and  give  it  to  the  house  of  Scribner's,  which  have  the  capital 
and  the  brains  and  will  push  the  thing.  The  edition  of  the  book 


262  THE    HIBBEN     LINCOLN 

they  will  publish  will  have  much  new,  good,  and  excellent  matter  in 
it.  I  have  been  for  years  collecting  new  facts  about  Lincoln  and  in- 
tend to  keep  at  it  till  I  can  hear  no  more  facts  to  gather,  and  then  the 
world  can  have  the  MSS.  .  .  . 

There  was  quite  a  political  revolution  here  in  November  last — 
cause,  the  McKinley  tariff  bill,  principally,  though  other  things 
helped.  Since  you  went  to  Paris,  a  third  party  has  risen  up  and  threat- 
ens to  disturb  the  old  parties.  We  have  in  this  State  a  "deadlock"  now 
in  our  legislatures  over  the  election  of  a  United  States  Senator.  I  think 
that  the  deadlock  will  break  this  week,  but  politics  do  not  interest  you 
and  I  shall  say  no  more  of  them. 

If  your  wife  is  with  you,  give  her,  and  any  of  the  children  in  Quincy, 
my  highest  regards. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEB.NBON. 


Springfield,  IU.,  February  £1, 1891. 
Friend  Jesse: 

In  your  letter  of  the  8th  mst.  you  ask  me  if  I  remember  Mr.  Lin- 
coln's lecture  here  in  1858-59,  and  in  answer  to  your  question,  let  me 
say  I  do  distinctly  remember-it.  It  was  delivered  here  in  Myer's  Hall 
on  the  north  side  of  the  square,  nearly  midway  between  Fifth  and 
Sixth  Streets  and  some  time,  I  think,  in  February — probably  Jan- 
uary *59. 1  heard  the  lecture  and  remember  the  subject  of  it  very  well. 
The  title  of  it  was  substantially  "The  Time  of  the  Different  Inven- 
tions," mostly  those  mentioned  in  the  Bible.  Probably  the  word  "dis- 
coveries" would  suit  the  title  as  well.  Knowing  Mr.  L.  as  well  as  I  did,  I 
was  anxious  to  hear  him,  and  did  listen  to  him  well,  thoroughly,  atten- 
tively, and  curiously  too.  I  know  that  Mr.  L.  was  not  fitted,  qualified, 
in  any  way  to  deliver  a  lecture  to  our  people,  who  were  intelligent,  well 
read,  and  well  educated.  I  was  not  mistaken  in  the  lecture  which  Mr.  L. 
read ;  it  was  a  lifeless  thing,  a  dull  dead  thing,  "died  aborning."  It  fell 
on  the  ears  of  the  audience  a  cold  flat  thing.  There  was  no  life,  imag- 
ination, or  fancy  in  it,  no  spirit  and  no  life.  The  whole  thing  was  a  kind 
of  farce  and  injured  Mr.  L/s  reputation  as  a  man  of  sense  among  his 
friends  and  enemies. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  peculiar,  mysterious  man.  I  wrote  to  you  once 


I^ETTEXS    ¥EOM     HEEK35ON  263 


that  Mr.  L.  had  a  double  consciousness,  a  double  life.  The  two  states, 
never  in  the  normal  man,  co-exist  in  equal  and  vigorous  activities 
though  they  succeed  each  other  quickly.  One  state  predominates  and, 
while  it  so  rules,  the  other  state  is  somewhat  quiescent,  shadowy,  yet 
living,  a  real  thing.  This  is  the  sole  reason  why  L,  so  quickly  passed 
from  one  state  of  consciousness  to  another  and  a  different  state.  In 
one  moment  he  was  in  a  state  of  abstraction  and  then  quickly  in  an- 
other state  when  he  was  a  social,  talkative,  and  a  communicative  fel- 
low. In  our  office  on  the  west  side  of  the  square  we  had  a  long  office 
table  running  north  and  south.  Mr.  L.  always  took  his  seat  on  the 
east  side  of  the  table,  looking  westward,  and  I  sat  on  the  west  side  of 
the  table  looking  eastward,  and  thus  we  sat  face  [to  face].  About  one 
o'clock  in  the  daytime  the  sun,  especially  in  the  summer,  streamed 
through  the  western  windows  of  our  office  and  flooded  Lincoln's  face, 
so  that  I  could  see  to  the  very  back  part  of  his  eyes.  When  thus  situ- 
ated and  in  one  of  his  abstract  moods  I  studied  the  man  and  think  that 
I  could  read  his  thoughts  clearly,  distinctly,  certainly  in  a  general 
way.  You  know  my  love  of  reading  men,  mind,  moods,  characteristics, 
etc.  You  are  aware  that  I  love  the  science  of  the  mind  quite  over  all 
studies  and  I  had  the  very  best  of  opportunities  to  do  so.  On  looking 
at  the  man  under  the  above  conditions  speculatively,  critically,  he 
would  to  the  observer's  surprise  without  warning  burst  out  in  a  loud 
laugh  or  quickly  spring  up  and  run  downstairs  as  if  his  house  were  on 
fire,  saying  nothing.  Sometimes  it  took  a  strong  effort  on  his  part  to 
awake,  arouse  himself  from  one  condition  on  purpose  or  with  intent  to 
live  in  another  state  of  consciousness.  To  do  this  he  would  tell  a  story 
or  read  a  chapter  in  such  a  book  as  Jack  Downing,  Nasby,  Bill  Nye,  or 
Josh  Billings.  The  sharp  points  of  one  state  of  consciousness  touched 
the  other  state,  and  it  was  therefore  easy  for  him  to  pass  from  one 
state  to  another  and  a  different  state.  Such  was  the  man  always.  This 
law  of  the  man  may  spring  out  of  the  double  brain,  each  part  lying 
close  together  side  by  side  and  touch  to  touch,  one  life  in  one  hemi- 
sphere of  the  brain  and  the  other  life  in  the  other.  Jesse,  you  don't 
like  this  kind  of  stuff,  I  know,  and  will  quit  it,  cutting  it  short  for  your 
sake,  yes,  for  your  sake. 

I  was  sorry  that  your  lecturing  tour  was  a  failure.  Jesse,  do  not  try 
to  lecture  in  the  West  till  you  first  go  East  and  create  a  big  name  aiwl 
then  it  will  wave  and  ring  out  West.  I  tried  to  make  a  little  money  here 


264  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

years  ago  by  lecturing  in  the  West  but  it  was  a  dead  flat  failure  as  to 
money,  so  I  learned  that  I  should  have  gone  North  first  and  then  trav- 
eled West,  so  the  world  wags.  "Westward  the  star  of  Empire,"  goes, 
and  so  do  all  business,  inventions,  discoveries,  literature,  etc.,  etc., 
etc.,  etc, 

I  must  get  back  to  Lincoln.  Lincoln's  little  offhand  speeches  made 
on  his  trip  to  Washington  were  wise  things,  i.e.,  they  showed  that  Lin- 
coln was  determined  to  keep  his  own  secrets  and  make  no  blunders,  ex- 
cite no  hate,  arouse  no  bad  feelings,  say  nothing  that  would  bind  him 
till  the  development  of  the  last  fact  in  the  great  drama  in  which  he  was 
to  take  part.  These  speeches  were  called  "Lincoln's  last  jokes,"  by 
way  of  contempt  for  the  man  and  his  cause.  Let  us  defend  Lincoln  in 
this  matter  by  stating  the  facts,  ideas,  purposes,  etc.,  of  the  little 
things.  I  stated  this  to  you  before,  but  I  repeat  it  because  you  may 
forget  the  facts  and  what  I  said.  You  know  that  you  have  been  in 
love's  purgatory  for  about  two  years,  a  most  glorious  purgatory  too, 
when  we  know  that  some  sweet  priestess  can  slip  us  out  by  her  love  and 
her  gracious  ointments.  God  bless  the  woman. 

Can  you  not  pick  out  the  suppressed  parts  of  Mr.  Swett's  letter  and 
publish  them  in  notes  under  the  Swett  letter,  stating  the  facts  that 
Swett  suppressed  them  because  he  thought  that  no  one  would  believe 
him  in  such  radical  views?  I  know  that  they  are  true  and  correct 
opinions  of  Lincoln  in  every  particular.  I  hope  that  you  recollect  the 
facts  of  our  writing  to  him  and  his  letter  of  reply. 

I  said  to  you  while  I  was  in  Greencastle  that  Lincoln  told  me  that 
John  T.  Stuart,  Matheny,  and  the  leading  Fillmore  men  in  this  sec- 
tion were  bribed  by  the  Buchanan  corruption  fund,  said  that  he  be- 
lieved that  the  Fillmore  party,  i.e.,  leaders  of  it  through  the  State, 
were  bought  and  sold  like  hogs  are  sold  in  the  market.  That  induced 
me  to  kill  the  Conservative  published  here.  I  had  two  ideas  in  getting 
in  the  Richmond  Enquirer  article :  first,  I  wanted  it  published  in  the 
Conservative  so  as  to  show  the  rank  and  file  of  the  Fillmore  boys  the 
course  they  were  expected  to  move — vote  and  act  and  in  the  end  shout 
for  slavery ;  and,  in  the  second  place,  I  wanted  to  kill  the  Conservative 
out  and  out.  It  did  soon  die,  possibly  for  want  of  funds  or  because  of 
the  Richmond  Enquirer  piece.  The  Richmond  Enquirers  article  main- 
tained that  slavery  was  right  in  principle  and  that  it  covered  the 
white  race  as  well  as  the  black.  It  was  a  long  piece  and  a  well-written 


LETTE&S  yaOM  HERHBOH  266 


one.  Here  then  is  a  full  explanation  of  what  I  told  jou  when  I  was  in 
your  city.  I  remember  too  of  writing  to  you  some  general  words  about 
this  matter,  but  I  repeat  in  order  to  make  the  matter  full  and  plain. 
Lincoln  'knew  what  he  was  talking  about,  let  me  assure  you.  This  can- 
not now  go  in  print,  but  it  can  go  to  the  world  if  needed,  in  the  great 
future. 

Jesse,  in  the  last  two  years  I  have  written  to  you  many  letters  send- 
ing you  enough  facts,  good  and  true  ones,  to  fill  a  volume  the  size  of 
our  book.  The  consequence  is  that  all  cannot  go  in  our  book  and  a 
selection  must  be  made,  leaving  out  much  for  some  future  biographer 
to  use,  if  we  cannot  use  the  matter  in  some  future  edition  of  the  Life 
of  L.  Looking  at  it  in  this  light,  I  have  selected  three  pieces  which  I 
prefer  to  all  others,  and  they  are  : 

First,  what  was  the  war  about,  nullification,  secession. 

Secondly,  Lincoln's  double  consciousness  —  in  two  letters  one  a 
long  time  since  and  the  other  this  week. 

Thirdly  .  .  .  The  third  I  have  forgotten,  will  remember  it  and 
write  you  to  fill  the  blank. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H.  HEBNDON. 

P.S.  Am  glad  that  you  are  on  a  high  horse  about  the  Scribners.  I 
guess  that  they  will  push  things  ahead  vigorously.  H. 


Sprmgfield,  7tt.,  February  $6, 1891. 
Friend  Jesse : 

I  wish  to  say  a  word  or  two  about  Mr.  Lincoln's  fatalism.  First,  he 
believed  that  both  matter  and  mind  are  governed  by  certain  irref- 
ragable and  irresistible  laws,  and  that  no  prayers  of  ours  could  ar- 
rest their  operation  in  the  least.  Secondly,  that  what  was  to  be  would 
be  inevitably.  Thirdly,  that  the  laws  of  human  nature  are  persistent 
and  permanent  and  could  not  be  reversed ;  he  said  this  in  his  printed 
speech  in  *42 ;  and,  fourthly,  he  said,  while  he  was  President,  that  he 
did  not  rule  events,  during  any  time  in  his  administration,  but  that 
events  ruled  him.  All  these  things  are  of  record  and  there  is  no  mis- 
take about  it.  It  follows  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  fatalist,  as  fee  himself 
has  said,  though  his  fatalism  was  not  of  the  extreme  order  like  the 
Mahometan  idea  of  fate,  because  he  believed  firmly  in  the  power  of 


266  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

human  effort  to  modify  the  environments  which  surround  us.  He  made 
efforts  at  all  times  to  modify  and  change  public  opinion  and  to  climb 
to  the  Presidential  heights;  he  toiled  and  struggled  in  this  line  as 
scarcely  any  man  ever  did.  As  to  free  will,  he  said  that  that  which  was 
governed  by  a  force  outside  of  itself  was  not  self -governed  and  that 
which  was  not  self -governed  was  not  free,  though  he  admitted  that  the 
will  to  a  very  limited  extent,  in  some  fields  of  operation,  was  somewhat 
free.  The  laws  of  the  universe  were,  except  as  to  human  nature,  outside 
of  the  will  and  governed  it.  The  will,  in  addition,  had  to  act  along  the 
lines  of  human  nature,  including  the  laws  of  motive,  thus  giving  the 
will  only  a  small  field  of  action  for  the  exercise  of  its  freedom,  so  called. 

I  wish  to  use  the  above  statement  of  facts  for  an  end,  namely,  to 
show  that  Mr.  Lincoln  believed  that  men  are  the  children  of  condi- 
tions, of  circumstances,  and  of  their  environments  which  surround 
them,  including  a  hundred  thousand  years  or  more  of  education  with 
acquired  habits  and  the  tendency  to  heredity  molding  them  as  they  are 
and  will  forever  be.  His  whole  philosophy  made  him  free  from  hate, 
free  from  love,  intense  and  free  from  malice.  No  man  was  responsible 
for  what  he  was,  thought,  or  did,  because  he  was  a  child  of  conditions. 
No  man  was  censured  by  him  or  ought  to  be  by  others ;  he  was,  by  his 
philosophy,  full  of  charity  for  his  fellow-man.  No  man  was  to  be 
eulogized  for  what  he  did  or  censured  for  what  he  did  not  do  or  did  do. 
Hence  Lincoln  could  well  exclaim:  "With  malice  toward  none  and 
charity  for  all."  I  never  heard  him  censure  anyone  but  slightly,  nor 
eulogize  any,  probably  with  two  milk  and  cider  efforts,  one  of  which 
was  on  Thomas  Jefferson  and  the  other  on  Henry  Clay.  He  himself 
said :  "I  am  not  accustomed  to  deal  in  eulogies."  I  have  often  thought 
that  he  did  not  care  anything  for  men,  thought  that  he  looked  through 
them  for,  or  at,  the  principle  behind  them,  and  of  which  they  were  the 
representative.  He  worshiped  principle,  laws. 

You  once  sent  me  a  bitter  invective  said  to  be  spoken  by  Lincoln  to 
one  Duff  Green,  a  Southern  nullifier  and  free  trader,  who  had  spoken 
to  L.  harshly  about  the  war  and  its  cruelties.  The  invective  will  be 
found,  as  you  told  me,  in  Belf ord's  magazine.  Now  from  the  above,  my 
friend  Jesse,  do  you  not  see  that  the  Belford  piece  is  an  absurdity,  "a 
bald  Be  made  out  of  whole  cloth"?  So  are  such  invectives  said  to  be 
from  Lincoln.  Another  invective  said  to  be  pronounced  by  L.  against 
an  African  slave-driver  will  be  found  in  Holland's  romantic  Life  of  L. 


LET TEES  FSOM  HUENDOK  267 

at  pages  433~34«.  This  is  all  mere  "bosh,  a  lie/'  Again  there  is  another 
piece,  though  not  of  the  same  kind  as  the  above,  to  be  found  the  Inde- 
pendent, year  1859-60,  New  York.  The  article  was  written  by  a  Mr. 
GvZliveT  for  the  New  York  Independent.  Gulliver,  eh !  I  counted  nine 
or  more  barefaced  errors  in  the  article.  Gulliver  said  that  Lincoln 
opened  to  him  his  methods  of  education  in  a  free  and  easy  style.  Jesse, 
I  could  pick  out  a  hundred,  if  not  a  thousand,  such  things  as  the  above 
now  and  then  floating  around  in  the  newspapers.  See,  I  have  purposely 
written  to  you  this,  so  that,  if  you  need  it,  which  I  do  not  think  you 
do,  you  can  be  on  your  guard  as  to  the  correctness  of  what  you  hear 
and  read, 

If  Lincoln's  limited  fatalism  leads  to  the  banishment  of  malice, 
causes  freedom  from  malice  and  vindictiveness,  to  his  broad  and  living 
charity  for  the  foibles  of  his  fellow-man,  and  to  his  general  love  for  all 
men  of  all  races  and  all  religions,  and  to  his  nobility  of  thought  and 
deed,  then  the  race  had  better  adopt  a  limited  fatalism  as  theory  and 
practice  of  its  daily  life,  rather  than  the  so-called  Christianity. 

Jesse,  I  should  like  to  know  what  you  are  doing  about  our  Life  of  L. 
and  what  you  intend  to  do  about  it  in  the  future,  as  well  as  what  you 
have  done  since  the  first  edition  of  the  Life  published  by  B.,  C.  &  Co., 
but  I  know  that  you  will  not  answer.  I  shall  not  ask  any  questions,  but 
shut  my  eyes  and  say :  "Good  Lord,  help  me  to  see." 

HEEKDON. 


Springfield,  III,  February  £7,  189 1.1 
Friend  Bartlett: 

Your  very  kind  letter  of  the  18th  inst .  was  duly  received  and  is  now 
in  my  hand.  I  thank  you  for  your  good  wishes.  Pay  or  no  pay,  as  to 
my  book,  I  shall  give  to  the  world  the  facts  of  Lincoln's  life,  truly, 
faithfully,  and  honestly.  The  great  future  can  then  write  its  own  book 
and  be  paid  therefor.  The  world  moves  in  its  own  way  and  in  its  own 
time.  .  .  . 

Today  I  have  written  to  Mr.  Weik  at  Greencastle,  Indiana,  my 
partner  in  the  book  business,  requesting  him  to  send  you  the  photos 
which  you  speak  of.  The  others,  including  the  portfolio,  I  have  and 

i  A  notation  at  the  head  reads:  "Last  letter  from  Mr.  Herndon.  He  died  March 
3  1891." 


268  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


send  you  in  a  short  time,  I  live  in  the  country  six  miles  north  of  the 
city  and  do  not  feel  well  enough  right  now  to  get  out  and  attend  to 
your  business  —  rough  and  muddy  roads  too,  to  crawl  over.  I  do  not 
wish  to  risk  the  business  in  other  hands. 

To  help  you  somewhat,  I  hope,  in  your  conceptions,  ideas,  about 
Mr.  Lincoln,  let  me  say  to  you  that  he  had  a  double  consciousness,  if 
not  a  treble  consciousness.  First,  he  was  a  terribly  gloomy,  sad  man  at 
times.  Secondly,  he  was  at  times  full  of  humor,  "jokey,"  witty,  happy. 
Gloom  and  sadness  were  his  predominant  state.  Thirdly,  at  times  he 
was  neither  sad  nor  humorous,  but  was  simply  in  a  pleasant  mood,  i.e., 
he  was  not  in  a  gloomy  nor  a  mirthful  fit,  was  kindly,  thoughtful,  not 
serious  even  —  a  state  of  thought  and  good  feelings  united  for  the  mo- 
ment- This  state  appeared  in  him  when  in  a  pleasant  conversation  with 
friends*  This  last  state  was  not  of  long  duration.  Lincoln  was  a  curi- 
ous, mysterious,  quite  an  incomprehensible  man.  Do  not  think  that  I 
exaggerate.  These  states,  double  or  treble,  are  the  causes  why  the 
photos  are  different  a  little  as  to  likeness.  The  moment  Lincoln  took 
his  seat  at  the  photo  machine  and  looked  down  the  barrel  of  it,  he  be- 
came sad,  rather  serious,  as  all  business  with  him  was  serious,  life  in- 
cluded. .  .  .  You  may  show  this  short  and  hasty  note  to  those  who 
visit  you  when  you  get  the  photos,  if  you  wish  and  think  it  will  keep 
them. 

Your  friend, 

W.  H,  HEB.NDON. 


Part  Two 


EVIDENCES 


.  Letters  to  Ilerndon 


FROM  HORACE  WHITE 

Tribune  Office*  Chicago,  III.,  May  17,  1865. 
Dear  Sir: 

Your  letter  of  the  15th  instant  is  received.  The  apostrophe  to  the  Dec- 
laration of  Independence,  to  which  you  refer,  was  written  by  myself  from 
a  mind  recollection  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  speech  at  Beards  town,  August  12, 
1858.  On  the  day  following  the  delivery  of  the  speech,  as  Mr.  Lincoln 
and  myself  were  proceeding  by  steamer  from  Beards  town  to  Havana,  I 
said  to  him  that  I  had  been  greatly  impressed  by  his  concluding  remarks 
of  the  day  previous,  and  that,  if  he  would  write  them  out  for  me,  I  felt 
confident  their  publication  would  be  highly  beneficial  to  our  cause  as  well 
as  honorable  to  his  own  fame.  He  replied  that  he  had  but  a  faint  recol- 
lection of  any  portion  of  the  speech,  that,  like  all  his  campaign  speeches, 
it  was  necessarily  extemporaneous,  and  that  its  good  or  bad  effect  de- 
pended upon  the  inspiration  of  the  moment.  He  added  that  I  had  prob- 
ably overestimated  the  value  of  the  remarks  referred  to.  In  reply  to  my 
question  whether  he  had  any  objection  to  my  writing  them  out  from  mem- 
ory and  putting  them  in  form  of  a  verbatim  report,  he  said:  "None  at  all." 
I  accordingly  did  so.  I  felt  confident — then,  and  I  feel  equally  assured 
now — that  I  transcribed  the  peroration  with  absolute  fidelity  as  to  ideas, 
and  with  commendable  fidelity  as  to  language.  I  certainly  aimed  to  re- 
produce his  exact  words,  and  my  recollection  of  the  passage  as  spoken 
was  very  clear.  After  I  had  finished  writing,  I  read  it  to  Mr.  Lincoln, 
When  I  had  finished  the  reading,  he  said ;  "Well,  those  are  my  views,  and 
if  I  said  anything  on  the  subject,  I  must  have  said  substantially  that,  tot 
not  nearly  so  well  as  that  is  said."  I  remember  this  remark  quite  dis- 
tinctly, and  if  the  old  steamer  Editor  is  still  in  existence,  I  could  show 
the  place  where  we  were  sitting.  Having  secured  his  assent  to  the  pub- 
lication I  forwarded  it  to  our  paper,  but  inasmuch  as  my  report  of  the 
Beardstown  meeting  had  been  already  mailed,  I  incorporated  the  remarks 
oil  the  Declaration  of  Independence  into  my  letter  from  Lewistown  two 
or  three  days  subsequently. 

Although  a  matter  of  little  moment,  I  have  given  you  the  facts  thus 
in  detail  because  you  seem  specially  interested  in  it.  Looking  at  the  pas- 
sage BOW,  I  discover  that  it  is  not  exactly  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  style,  wMeh 
I  deem  imfortmiate,  as  it  fails  to  convey  the  tremendous  directness  which 

271 


272  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

he  always  gave  to  his  utterances  on  those  occasions  when  he  rose  to  im- 
passioned eloquence.  And  I  will  say  here  that,  in  such  moments,  I  have 
never  heard  his  equal,  and  I  believe  I  have  listened  at  times  to  nearly  all 
the  public  speakers  of  considerable  reputation  in  this  country.  I  cannot 
conceive  that  Patrick  Henry,  Mirabeau,  or  Vergniaud  ever  surpassed  him 
on  those  occasions  when  his  great  soul  was  inspired  with  the  thought  of 
human  rights  and  Divine  justice.  I  presume  that  your  suspicions  in  regard 
to  the  passage  on  the  Declaration  of  Independence  have  been  aroused  by 
noticing  a  slight  aberration  from  his  style,  as  I  do  not  remember  ever 
having  related  these  facts  before,  although  they  have  often  recurred  to 
me  as  I  have  seen  the  peroration  resuscitated  again  and  again,  and  pub- 
lished (with  good  effect,  I  trust)  in  the  newspapers  of  this  country  and 
England. 

In  regard  to  the  other  topic  in  your  letter  I  can  only  say  that  I  ac- 
companied Mr.  Lincoln  almost  constantly  during  the  memorable  cam- 
paign of  1858,  that  I  had  the  pleasure  of  hearing  nearly  all  his  speeches 
— those  which  were  published  and  those  which  were  not — and  I  am  sure 
that  I  never  heard  him  say  anything  of  the  sort  attributed  to  him  by 
Bishop  Simpson.  I  might  add  that  it  seems  totally  unlike  him.  My  acquaint- 
ance with  Mr.  Lincoln  commenced  in  1854*,  and  continued,  with  frequent 
meeting,  until  his  death,  and  I  certainly  should  not  hesitate  to  pronounce 
Bishop  Simpson's  citation  an  entire  mistake. 

Very  sincerely  your  friend  &  obedient  servant, 

HORACE  WHITE. 


FROM  HORACE  WHITE 

Office  of  Daily  Tribune,  Chicago,  III,  May  $2, 1865. 
Dear  Sir: 

Yours  of  the  20th  is  received.  You  can  act  upon  your  own  discretion  as 
to  using  the  matter  which  I  communicated  to  you,  or  my  name  in  connec- 
tion with  it.  I  care  nothing  about  it. 

I  think  you  are  peculiarly  qualified,  by  long  and  intimate  association 
with  Mr.  Lincoln,  by  knowledge  and  appreciation  of  his  character,  and 
sympathy  with  his  personal,  professional,  and  political  aims  in  life,  to 
be  his  biographer.  You  were  perhaps  more  nearly  en  rapport  with  him 
than  any  other.  I  trust  you  will  not  put  off  the  task  which  you  have  pro- 
posed to  yourself  until  others  less  informed,  or  not  informed  at  all,  shall 
have  distorted  him.  I  would  not  recommend  undue  haste,  but,  considering 
the  tmcertaiBty  of  life,  I  would  remark  that  you  cannot  employ  your 


LBTTEES    TO     HERNDOH  273 

time  more  profitably  to  others  (however  it  may  be  to  yourself),  than  in 
pushing  your  task  to  completion  with  reasonable  diligence. 

This  reminds  me  that  I  was  applied  to  the  other  day  by  Dr.  Holland 
of  Springfield,  Massachusetts,  to  write  something  for  a  biography  of 
Mr.  L.  which  he  is  preparing.  His  proposition  to  me  was  that  I  should 
send  him  as  much  as  I  could  prepare  in  two  or  three  hours  concerning  the 
campaign  of  1858.  I  remarked  to  him  that  I  thought  you  were  preparing 
a  biography  and  recommended  him  to  go  and  see  you,  and  he  promised 
to  do  so. 

Yours  truly, 

HORACE  WHITE. 


FROM  JOHN 

Petersburg,  III,  J&ne  6, 
Dear  Sir: 

Yours  of  yesterday  is  at  hand.  I  will  be  more  prompt  this  time. 

Miss  Ann  Rutledge  died  within  a  few  days  of  September  1,  1835, 
certain.  Lincoln  bore  up  under  it  very  well  until  some  days  afterwards  a 
heavy  rain  fell,  which  unnerved  him  and — (the  balance  you  know).  As  to 
the  Lincoln  and  Smoot  story,  I  know  it  to  be  true  as  it  was  told  me  by 
Mr.  Lincoln  himself,  and  I  afterwards  told  Mr.  Smoot  of  it  and  he  re- 
membered it.  I  remember  Lincoln's  words,  but  will  see  Smoot,  and  then 
give  it  to  you.  Whatever  he  says  is  as  true  as  the  word  of  man.  Enclosed 
I  send  the  printed  slip,  I  published  it  in  1862.  Every  item  in  it  I  believe 
to  have  been  true  except  in  relation  to  keeping  a  stallion.  I  made  good 
inquiry  before  writing  and  think  I  arrived  at  the  truth.  The  order  of  suc- 
cession may  not  be  technically  true. 

As  to  keeping  a  stallion,  the  origin  of  this  was  that  old  Joe  Walkins 
(now  dead)  kept  a  horse  at  Salem,  and  Lincoln  requested  him  that, 
whenever  a  mare  came,  he  would  be  sure  to  let  him  know  it  as  he  wanted 
to  tee  &,  Walkins  did  so,  and  Lincoln  always  attended,  etc. — I  have  this 
from  W.  G.  Greene  and  others  as  the  truth.  Mother  informs  me  that  when 
James  Short  arrives  she  will  be  able  to  give  you  more  information  than 
any  or  all  the  men  in  the  county  if  his  memory  serves  him  well. 

Should  I  have  anything  of  interest  I  will  advise  you.  I  will  hunt  up 
the  books  Lincoln  kept  for  Father,  etc*  He  (L.)  was  Postmaster  at  Salem 
a  short  time. 

Yours  truly, 
JOHN  Hnx. 


274  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

FROM  DENNIS  F.  HANKS 

Sanitary  Fair,  Chicago,  III.,  June  1$, 
Dear  Sir: 

I  received  your  letter  dated  the  [undeciphered],  asking  eight  or  ten 
interrogatories.  I  take  great  pleasure  in  answering  it,  question  by  ques- 
tion as  each  is  put  and  in  the  order  asked.  The  ancestors  of  Mr.  Lincoln 
came  from  England  about  the  year  1650.  They  first  settled  in  Bucking- 
ham County  in  the  State  of  Virginia  and  not  in  Pennsylvania  as  stated 
in  Abraham  Lincoln's  biographies.  The  ancestors  of  the  Lincoln  family 
were  Scotch  English.  Two  men  came  over  from  England  about  1650 — 
one  of  these  brothers  was  named  Mordecai  Lincoln  and  the  other  Thomas 
Lincoln,  from  whom  the  descendants  derived  their  nature  and  their  name. 
All  died  in  Virginia.  These  two  men  were  ironside  Baptists.  There  was 
one  of  the  children  of  these  men  who  was  named  Mordecai — the  son  of 
Thomas — I  know  none  of  the  children  of  Mordecai.  I  think  that  this 
Mordecai  was  the  great-great-grandfather  of  President  Lincoln.  He  was 
born  in  Virginia  and  died  about  1700.  Mordecai  Lincoln  was  the  grand- 
father of  Abraham  Lincoln,  Mordecai  Lincoln  was  the  great-grandfather 
of  Abraham  Lincoln.  He  was  born  in  the  State  of  Virginia.  Abraham  Lin- 
coln, the  son  of  Mordecai,  came  with  his  family  from  Virginia  to  Kentucky 
in  about  1780  among  the  pioneers  of  Daniel  Boone.  He,  Mordecai,  died  in 
Virginia.  Mordecai  was  the  father  of  Abraham's  grandfather.  Mordecai 
had  six  children,  four  boys  and  two  girls.  The  only  one  of  his,  Mordecai's, 
sons  I  now  remember  was  Abraham  Lincoln,  who  was  the  grandfather 
of  Abraham  and  the  father  of  Thomas.  He  was  killed  by  the  Indians 

near  Booneville,  Kentucky,  in County.  .  .  .  Abraham  Lincoln,  the 

grandfather  of  Abraham  the  President,  had  three  sons — Mordecai  and 
Abraham  and  Thomas  Lincoln,  the  last  being  the  father  of  Abraham.  All 
these  sons  and  daughters  scattered  and  went,  some  to  Kentucky,  some  to 
North  Carolina,  Tennessee,  Indiana,  and  Illinois.  The  Hanks  family,  of 
which  I  am  one,  was  not  connected  with  the  Lincoln  family  till  about 
1808.  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  father,  was  born  in  the  State  of  Vir- 
ginia on  the  Roanoke.  About  1775.  Thomas  Lincoln  was  six  years  old 
when  Ms  father  was  killed  by  the  Indians.  I  wish  to  state  one  fact  here 
about  the  killing  of  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  grandfather.  In  Ken- 
tucky all  men  had  to  clear  out  their  own  fields,  cut  down  the  trees,  split 
them  into  rails,  etc.,  and  in  putting  on  the  last  rail,  the  eighth  on  the  fence, 
one  Indian  who  had  secreted  himself  shot  Thomas  Lincoln.  Then  the 


POLITICAL  CARTOON'S  BY  L.  H.  STEPHENS,  1B64 
Courtcty  of  the  Henry  E.  Huntington  Library 


POLITICAL  CARTOONS  BY  L.  H.  STEPHENS,  1861 
Courtesy  of  the  Henry  E.  Huntington  Library 


TO     HBEHDOH  275 

Indian  ran  out  from  his  hiding  place  and  caught  Thomas,  the  father  of 
Abraham ;  Mordecai,  the  oldest  brother  of  Thomas  and  uncle  of  Abraham, 
jumped  over  the  fence,  ran  to  the  post,  shot  the  Indian  through  the  pivot 
holes  of  the  post,  the  Indian  dropped  Thomas,  ran,  and  was  followed  by 
the  blood  the  next  day  and  found  dead.  In  the  flight  he  threw  his  gun  in 
a  tree  top  which  was  found.  Mordecai  $aid  the  Indian  had  a  silver  half- 
moon  trinket  on  his  breast  at  the  time  he  drew  Ms  "bead"  on  the  Indian, 
that  silver  being  the  mark  he  shot  at  He  said  it  was  the  prettiest  mark 
he  held  a  rifle  on.  So  remains  now  of  old  Thomas  Lincoln's  children,  boys, 
three — Mordecai,  Thomas,  and  Silas,  The  children  of  Mordecai  came  to 
Sangamon;  the  children  of  Silas  scattered — some  in  Kentucky,  some  in 
Tennessee,  some  in  North  Carolina — and  Thomas  Lincoln  came  to  Indiana, 
There  is  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  father,  a  young  man;  he,  Thomas, 
at  the  age  of  twenty-five  was  married  to  Nancy  Sparrow,  not  Hanks  as 
stated  in  the  biographies  of  the  day.  Nancy  Sparrow,  Abraham's  mother, 
was  the  child  of  Henry  Sparrow.  Henry  Sparrow's  wife  was  Lucy  Hanks, 
Abraham's  [mother's]  mother.  The  stories  going  about,  charging  wrong 
or  indecency,  prostitution,  in  any  of  the  above  families  is  false  and  only 
got  up  by  base  political  enemies  and  traitors  to  injure  A.  Lincoln's  repu- 
tation, name,  and  fame.  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  [father],  was  mar- 
ried to  Nancy  Sparrow  about  the  year  1808  in  Hardm  County  and  State 
of  Kentucky.  Nancy  Sparrow,  the  child  of  Henry  Sparrow,  married 
Thomas  Lincoln  when  she  was  about  twenty  years  of  age;  she  was  born 
in  Mercer  County,  Kentucky.   Thomas  Lincoln  was  born  in  Virginia. 
Thomas  Lincoln,  the  father  of  Abraham,  owned  about  thirty  acres  in 
Hardin  County,  on  a  little  creek  called  Knob  Creek  which  empties  into 
the  Rolling  Fork.  He  owned  the  land  in  fee  simple.  After  the  marriage  of 
Thomas  Lincoln  and  Nancy  Sparrow,  say  in  three  or  four  years,  Abraham 
was  born  at  that  place.  The  cabin  was  a  double  one,  with  a  passage  or 
entry  between.  About  the  year  1813  or  '14,  as  the  volunteers  of  the  War 
of  1812  were  returning  home,  they  came  by  Lincoln's  house  and  he  fed 
and  cared  for  them  by  companies,  by  strings  of  them.  I  was  a  little  boy 
at  that  time,  Abraham  was  a  little  child,  and  Sarah,  Ms  sister  and  senior 
by  two  or  three  years,  was  then  likewise  living  and  a  little  girl.  They  had 
no  other  children — cause,  a  private  matter.  It  is  said  in  the  biographies 
that  Mr.  Lincoln  left  the  State  of  Kentucky  because  and  only  because 
slavery  was  there.  TMs  is  untrue.  He  moved  of  to  better  his  condition, 
to  a  place  where  he  could  buy  land  for  his  children  and  others  at  $1.25 
per  acre;  slavery  did  not  operate  on  him.  I  know  too  well  this  whole 
matter.  Mrs.  Lincoln,  Abraham's  mother,  was  five  feet  eight  inches 


276  THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

spare  made,  affectionate — the  most  affectionate  I  ever  saw — never  knew 
her  to  be  out  of  temper,  and  thought  strong  of  it.  She  seemed  to  be  im- 
movably calm;  she  was  keen,  shrewd,  smart,  and  I  do  say  highly  intel- 
lectual by  nature.  Her  memory  was  strong,  her  perception  was  quick,  her 
judgment  was  acute  almost.  She  was  spiritually  and  ideally  inclined,  not 
dull,  not  material,  not  heavy  in  thought,  feeling,  or  action.  Her  hair  was 
dark  hair,  eyes  bluish  green — keen  and  loving.  Her  weight  was  one  hun- 
dred thirty.  Thomas  Lincoln,  Abraham's  father,  was  five  feet  ten  inches 
high,  very  stoutly  built,  and  weighed  196  pounds;  his  hair  dark,  his  eyes 
hazel.  He  was  a  man  of  great  strength  and  courage,  not  one  bit  of  cow- 
ardice about  him.  He  could  carry  fatigue  for  any  length  of  time,  was  a 
man  of  uncommon  endurance.  Mr.  Lincoln's  friends  thought  him  the  best 
man  in  Kentucky,  and  others  thought  that  a  man  by  the  name  of  Hardin 
was  a  better  man — so  the  two  men  through  the  influence  of  their  friends 
met  at  a  tavern  in  Harrodsburg,  Kentucky.  There  the  two  men  had  a 
long  and  tedious  fight  and  Lincoln  whipped  Hardin  without  a  scratch. 
They  did  not  fight  from  anger  or  malice  but  to  try  who  was  the  strongest 
man,  to  try  manhood.  These  two  men  were  great  good  friends  ever  after. 
Thomas  Lincoln,  the  father  of  Abraham,  could  beat  his  son  telling  a 
story,  cracking  a  joke.  Mr.  Thomas  Lincoln  was  a  good,  clean,  social, 
truthful,  and  honest  man,  loving  like  his  wife  everything  and  everybody. 
He  was  a  man  who  took  the  world  easy,  did  not  possess  much  envy.  He 
never  thought  that  gold  was  God  and  the  same  idea  runs  through  his  fam- 
ily. One  day  when  Lincoln's  mother  was  weaving  in  a  little  shed,  Abe 
came  in  and  quizzically  asked  his  good  mother  who  was  the  father  of 
Zebedee's  children;  she  saw  the  drift  and  laughed,  saying:  "Get  out  of 
here,  you  nasty  little  pup,  you";  he  saw  he  had  got  his  mother  and  ran 
off  laughing.  About  Abe's  early  education  and  his  sister's  education,  let 
me  say  this;  Their  mother  first  learned  them  ABC's.  .  .  .  She  learned 
them  out  of  Webster's  old  spelling  book;  it  belonged  to  me  and  cost  in 
those  days  75$,  it  being  covered  with  calfskin  or  suchlike  covering.  I 
taught  Abe  his  first  lesson  in  spelling,  reading,  and  writing.  I  taught  Abe 
to  write  with  a  buzzard's  quill  which  I  killed  with  a  rifle  and,  having 
made  a  pen,  put  Abe's  hand  in  mine  and  moving  his  fingers  by  my  hand 
to  give  him  the  idea  of  how  to  write.  We  had  no  geese  then,  for  the  coun- 
try was  a  forest.  I  tried  to  kill  an  eagle  but  it  was  too  smart;  wanted  to 
learn  Abe  to  write  with  that.  Lincoln's  mother  learned  him  to  read  the 
Bible,  study  it  and  the  stories  in  it  and  all  that  was  moral  and  affectionate 
in  it,  repeating  it  to  Abe  and  his  sister  when  very  young.  Lincoln  was 
often  and  much  moved  by  the  stories.  This  Bible  was  bought  in  Philadel- 
phia about  1801  by  my  father  and  mother  and  was  mine  when  Abe  was 


LETTEES    TO     HE&ND0N  277 

taught  to  read  in  it.  It  is  now  burned  together  with  all  property,  deeds , 
family  and  other  records.  This  fire  took  place  in  Charleston,  Coles  County, 
Illinois,  December  5,  1864;  lost  all  I  have;  my  wife  died  December  18, 
1864.  I  was  born  in  Hardin  County,  Kentucky,  in  1709,  May  15,  on  Nolan 
Creek  near  Elizabethtown.  I  was  ten  years  older  than  Abraham  and  knew 
him  intimately  and  well  from  the  day  of  his  birth  to  1830;  I  was  the 
second  man  who  touched  Lincoln  after  his  birth,  a  custom  in  Kentucky 
then  of  running  to  greet  the  newborn  babe.  A  man  by  the  name  of  Hazel 
helped  to  teach  Abraham  his  ABC,  spelling,  reading,  and  writing,  etc, 
Lincoln  went  to  school  about  three  months  with  his  sister,,  all  the  educa- 
tion he  had  in  Kentucky.  Parson  Elkin,  a  preacher  of  the  old  Baptist  reli- 
gion, came  to  Mr.  Thomas  Lincoln  and  frequently  preached  in  that  neigh- 
borhood. 

At  about  the  year  1818  Thomas  Lincoln,  the  father  of  Abraham,  had 
a  notion  in  his  head:  formed  a  determination  to  sell  out  his  place  and 
move  to  Indiana,  then  a  new  State,  where  he  could  buy  land  as  said  be- 
fore at  $1.25  per.  He  sold  out  to  [undeciphered].  Mr.  Lincoln  got  $300 
and  took  it,  the  $300,  in  whisky.  The  thirty-acre  farm  in  Kentucky  was  as 
knotty,  knobby  as  a  piece  of  land  could  be,  with  deep  hollows,  ravines, 
cedar  trees  covering  the  parts,  knolls,  knobs  as  thick  as  trees  could  grow. 
Lincoln's  house  was  in  a  hollow  of  a  high,  tall,  and  peaky  hill  and  boarded 
with  cedar.  Stood  up  against  the  sky  all  around.  Mr.  Lincoln  as  stated 
before  sold  his  farm  for  whisky.  He  cut  down  trees,  made  a  kind  of  fiat- 
boat  out  of  yellow  poplar.  He  made  the  boat  on  the  Rolling  Fork  at  the 
mouth  of  Knob  Creek,  Hardin  County,  Kentucky,  loaded  his  household 
furniture3  his  tools,  whisky,  and  other  effects,  including  pots,  vessels, 
rifles,  etc.,  etc.,  on  the  boat.  He  took  no  dogs,  chickens,  cats,  geese,  or 
other  domestic  animals.  He  floated  on  awhile  down  the  Rolling  Fork  and 
upset  and  lost  the  most  of  the  tools,  etc.,  and  some  of  his  whisky.  He 
went  along  by  himself,  not  taking  his  family.  From  the  Rolling  Fork  be 
ran  into  the  Beach  Fork  and  thence  into  the  great  Ohio,  He  landed  at 
Thompson's  Ferry  at  Posey's  house  or  farm.  He  started  out  from  the 
ferry  in  search  of  a  place  and  found  one  and  located  it  by  making  blazes, 
brush  heaps,  etc.,  to  make  a  location,  which  he  afterwards  bought  at 
$2*00  per  acre,  purchased  it  under  the  $2.00  act*  This  was  an  eighty-acre 
tract,  and  Mr.  Lincoln,  not  being  able  to  pay  for  it,  lost  his  $80,  which 
he  paid  to  the  government  and  which  the  government  kept  and  has  to- 
day. When  he  had  cornered  the  land,  blazed  it  off,  marked  the  boundaries, 
he  proceeded  on  horseback,  with  his  own  food  and  his  horse's  fodder 
behind  him,  to  Vincennes,  where  he  paid  the  $2.00  per  acre  as  stated  be- 
fore. Mr.  Lincoln  never  owned  the  land,  more  than  a  kind  of  pre-emption 


278  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

right,  and  sold  it  when  he  moved  to  Illinois.  I  fared  like  him  in  all  these 
particulars.  He  then  returned  to  the  State  of  Kentucky  from  Spencer 
County,  Indiana,  then  Perry  County,  since  divided  as  Hardin  County, 
Kentucky,  was,  as  Sangamon  County.  From  the  old  homestead  in  Ken- 
tucky, Hardin,  now  LaRue  County,  Thomas  Lincoln,  Nancy — father  and 
mother  of  Sarah  and  Abe — the  two  children,  and  two  feather  beds,  cloth- 
ing, etc.,  mounted  two  horses  and  went  back  to  Spencer  County,  then 
Perry  County,  Indiana,  where  said  land  was  located  on  a  little  creek 
called  Pigeon  Creek,  about  north  of  the  Ohio  and  about  seventy  miles 
northwest  of  Hardin  County,  Kentucky,  and  across  and  north  of  the  Ohio, 
They  had  no  wagons,  no  dogs,  cats,  hogs,  cows,  chickens,  or  suchlike  do- 
mestic animals.  Abe  was  at  this  time  seven  years  of  age.  Abe  read  no  books 
in  Kentucky.  Abe  was  a  good  boy,  an  affectionate  one,  a  boy  who  loved 
his  father  and  mother  dearly  and  well,  always  minding  them  well.  Some- 
times Abe  was  a  little  rude.  When  strangers  would  ride  along  and  up  to 
his  father's  fence,  Abe  always,  through  pride  and  to  tease  his  father, 
would  be  sure  to  ask  the  stranger  the  first  question,  for  which  his  father 
would  sometimes  knock  him  a  rod.  Abe  was  then  a  rude  and  forward  boy. 
Abe,  when  whipped  by  his  father,  never  balked,  but  dropped  a  kind  of 
silent  unwelcome  tear,  as  evidence  of  his  sensations  or  other  feelings. 
The  family  landed  at  Thompson's  Ferry  on  the  Ohio  and  over  the  Ken- 
tucky side,  crossed  the  Ohio,  and  landed  at  Posey's  farm  on  the  Indiana 
side.  Hence  seventeen  miles  northwest  of  the  ferry.  I  went  myself  with 
them  backwards  and  forwards  to  Indiana  and  back  to  Kentucky  and  back 
to  Indiana,  and  know  the  story  and  all  the  facts  well.  We  all  started  from 
Kentucky  in  September  1818  and  was  three  or  four  days  to  the  ferry  and 
one  day  from  the  ferry  out  to  the  place  of  location.  Here  they  stopped, 
camped,  erected  a  little  two-face  camp  open  in  front,  serving  a  mo- 
mentary purpose.  Lincoln  saw  a  wild  turkey  near  the  camp  on  the  sec- 
ond day  after  landing,  and  Mrs.  Lincoln,  Abe's  good  mother,  loaded  the 
gun.  Abe  poked  the  gun  through  the  crack  of  the  camp  and  accidentally 
killed  one,  which  he  brought  to  the  camp  house.  Thomas  Lincoln  then  went 
on  getting  trees  for  the  logs  of  his  house,  cutting  down  the  brush  and 
underwood,  Indiana  then  being  a  wilderness  and  wholly  a  timberous  coun- 
try. I  assisted  him  to  do  this,  to  cut  timber,  haul  logs,  etc.,  and  helped 
him  erect  his  log  cabin,  a  camp,  one  story  high,  just  high  enough  to  stand 
under,  no  higher.  This  took  only  one  day.  Abe  could  do  little  jobs,  such 
as  carry  water,  go  to  the  springs,  branches,  etc.,  by  digging  for  water 
which  was  got  by  hills.  This  was  a  temporary  affair.  This  was  in  1818. 
We,  Lincoln's  family,  including  Sally  and  Abe  and  myself,  slept  and 


LETT BBS    TO     HUE  N  BON  279 

lodged  in  this  cabin  all  winter  and  till  next  spring.  We  in  the  winter  and 
spring  cut  down  brush,  underwood,  trees,  cleared  ground,  made  a  field 
of  about  six  acres,  on  which  we  raised  our  crops.  We  all  hunted  pretty 
much  all  the  time,  especially  so  when  we  got  tired  of  work,  which  was 
very  often,  I  will  assure  you.  We  did  not  have  to  go  more  than  four  or 
five  hundred  yards  to  kill  deer,  turkeys,  and  other  wild  game.  We  found 
bee  trees  all  over  the  forests.  Wild  game  and  meat  were  our  food.  We  ate 
no  wild  locust,  like  John  the  Baptist.  We  had  to  go  to  the  Ohio  Biver 
seventeen  miles  to  mill,  and  when  we  got  there  the  mill  was  a  poor  con- 
cern; it  was  a  little  bit  of  hand  horse  mill,  the  ground  meal  of  which  a 
hand  could  eat  as  fast  as  it  was  ground.  Yet  this  was  a  Godsend.  The 
mill  was  close  to  Posey's.  The  country  was  wild,  full  of  game,  dense  with 
vegetation,  swampy.  We  could  track  a  bear,  deer,  wolf,  or  Indian  for 
miles  through  the  wild  matted  pea  vines.  Indians,  wild  bears,  wolves, 
deers,  were  plenty.  We  had  no  trouble  with  the  Indians  in  Indiana;  they 
soon  left  westward.  In  the  fall  and  winter  of  1819-20  we  commenced  to 
cut  the  trees,  clear  out  the  brush  and  underwoods  and  forest  for  our  new 
grand  old  log  cabin,  which  we  erected  that  winter ;  it  was  one  story,  eight- 
een by  twenty  feet,  no  passage,  one  window,  no  glass  in  it.  The  lights 
were  made  from  the  leaf  coming  off  from  the  hog's  fat.  This  was  good 
and  mellow  light  and  lasted  well,  The  house  was  sufficiently  high  to  make 
a  kind  of  bedroom  overhead,  a  loft.  This  was  approached  by  a  kind  of 
ladder  made  by  boring  holes  in  the  logs  forming  [undeciphered]  one  side 
of  the  house,  and  this  peg  over  peg  we  climbed  aloft,  the  pegs  creaking 
and  screeching  as  we  went.  Here  were  the  beds ;  the  floor  of  the  loft  was 
clapboards,  and  the  beds  lay  on  this.  Here  I  and  Abe  slept,  and  I  was 
married  there  to  Abe's  stepsister,  Miss  Elizabeth  Johnston,  not  Johnson. 
During  this  fall  Mrs,  Lincoln  was  taken  sick  with  what  is  known  as 
the  milk  sickness ;  she  struggled  on  day  by  day,  a  good  Christian  woman, 
and  died  on  the  seventh  day  after  she  was  taken  sick.  Abe  and  his  sister 
did  some  work,  little  jobs,  errands,  and  light  work.  There  was  no  physi- 
cian nearer  than  thirty-five  miles.  She  knew  she  was  going  to  die  and 
called  the  children  to  her  dying  side  and  told  them  to  be  good  and  kind 
to  their  father,  to  one  another,  and  to  the  world,  expressing  a  hop«  that 
they  might  live  as  they  had  been  taught  by  her  to  love  men,  love,  rev- 
erence, and  worship  God.  Here  in  this  rude  house,  of  the  milk  sickness, 
died  one  of  the  very  best  women  in  the  whole  race,  known  for  kindness, 
tenderness,  charity,  and  love  to  the  world.  Mrs.  Lincoln  always  taught 
Abe  goodness,  kindness,  read  the  good  Bible  to  him,  taught  him  to  read 
and  to  spell,  taught  him  sweetness  and  benevolence  as  well.  From  this 


280  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

up  to  1821  Mr.  Lincoln  lived  single,  Sarah  cooking  for  us,  she  then  be- 
ing about  fourteen  years  of  age.  We  still  kept  up  hunting  and  farming  it. 
Mr.  Lincoln,  Abe's  father,  was  a  cabinet-maker  and  house- joiner,  etc.* 
he  worked  at  this  trade  in  the  winter  at  odd  times,  farming  it  in  the  sum- 
mer. We  always  hunted;  it  made  no  difference  what  came,,  for  we  more 
or  less  depended  on  it  for  a  living,  nay  for  life.  We  had  not  been  long 
at  the  log  cabin  before  we  got  the  usual  domestic  animals,  known  to  civ- 
ilization. These  were  driven  out  from  near  the  Ohio  River  or  hauled  in 
a  cart  pulled  by  one  yoke  of  oxen.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  buried  about  one- 
fourth  of  a  mile  from  the  log  cabin  and  the  Baptist  Church;  the  pastor 
was  Lamon.  Abraham  learned  to  write  so  that  we  could  understand  it 
in  1821.  David  Elkin  of  Hardin  County,  Kentucky,  called  Parson  Elkin, 
whose  name  has  been  mentioned  before,  paid  a  visit.  I  do  not  think  Elkin 
came  at  the  solicitation  and  letter  writing  of  Abe,  but  came  of  his  own 
accord  or  through  the  solicitation  of  the  church  to  which  Mr.  Lincoln  be- 
longed. Abe  was  now  twelve  years  old.  Elkin  came  over  to  Indiana  in 
about  one  year  after  the  death  of  Mrs.  Elkin,  and  preached  a  funeral 
sermon  on  the  death  of  Mrs.  Lincoln.  Parson  Elkin  was  a  good,  true  man 
and  the  best  preacher  and  finest  orator  I  ever  heard.  I  have  heard  his 
words  distinctly  and  clearly  one-fourth  of  a  mile.  Some  little  time  before 
this  funeral  service  he,  Thomas  Lincoln,  went  to  Kentucky  and  married 
Johnston,  whose  maiden  name  was  Bush.  When  Thomas  Lincoln  married 
her,  she  had  three  children,  two  daughters  and  one  son.  The  family  came 
to  Indiana  with  their  stepfather  and  their  mother.  There  was  now  five 
children  in  the  family,  Sarah  and  Abe  Lincoln,  Elizabeth,  John  D.,  and 
Mathilda  Johnston.  I  married  Elizabeth.  I  was  just  twenty-one;  she  was 
fifteen,  Thomas  Lincoln  now  hurried  his  farming,  his  calling  and  busi- 
ness, always  remember  hunting.  Now  at  this  time  Abe  was  getting  hungry 
for  books,  reading  everything  he  could  lay  his  hands  on.  The  marriage 
of  Thomas  Lincoln  and  the  widow  Johnston  was  in  1821,  Abraham  being 
now  twelve  years  old.  Webster's  old  spelling  book,  the  Life  of  Henry  Clay, 
Robinson  Crusoe,  Weems's  Life  of  Washington,  JEsop's  fables,  Bunyan's 
Pilgrim**  Progress — I  do  not  say  that  Lincoln  read  these  books  just 
then,  but  he  did  between  this  time  and  1825.  He  was  a  constant  and  I 
may  say  stubborn  reader,  his  father  having  sometimes  to  slash  him  for 
neglecting  his  work  by  reading.  Mr.  Lincoln,  Abe's  father,  often  said: 
"I  had  to  pull  the  old  sow  up  to  the  trough/*  when  speaking  of  Abe's 
reading  and  how  he  got  to  it  then;  and  now  he  had  to  pull  her  away. 
From  the  time  of  the  marriage  of  Thomas  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Johnston, 
Mrs.  Lincoln  proved  an  excellent  stepmother.  When  she  came  into  In- 
diana, Abe  and  Ms  sister  was  wild,  ragged,  and  dirty,  Mrs.  Lincoln  had 


SETTEES    TO     H3EBNDOK  281 

been  raised  in  Elizabethtown  in  somewhat  a  high  life ;  she  soaped,  rubbed, 
and  washed  the  children  clean,  so  that  they  looked  pretty,  neat,  well,  and 
clean.  She  sewed  and  mended  their  clothes,  and  the  children  once  more 
looked  human  as  their  own  good  mother  left  them.  Thomas  Lincoln  and 
Mrs.  Lincoln  never  had  any  children,  accident  and  nature  stopping  things 
short.  From  1820  to  1825  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Lincoln  each  worked 
ahead  at  their  own  business;  Thomas  at  farming,  cabinet-making,  hunt- 
ing; she  at  cooking,  washing,  sewing,  weaving,  etc.,  etc.  About  the  year 
1825  or  1826  Abe  borrowed,  of  Josiah  Crawford,  Ramsey's  Life  of  Wash- 
ington, which  got  spoiled  as  specified  generally  in  the  President's  life  and 
paid  as  therein  described:  he  pulled  fodder  at  25f  per  day  to  pay  for 
it.  He  worked  three  or  four  days.  Abe  was  then  growing  to  be  a  man 
and  about  fifteen  or  sixteen  years  of  age.  He  was  then  just  the  same  boy 
in  every  particular  that  he  subsequently  exhibited  to  the  world  from  1831 
to  the  time  of  his  death.  At  this  early  age  he  was  more  humorous  than 
in  after  life,  full  of  fun,  wit,  humor,  and  if  he  ever  got  a  new  story,  new 
book,  a  new  fact  or  idea,  he  never  forgot  it.  He  was  honest,  faithful,  lov- 
ing truth,  speaking  it  at  all  times,  and  never  flinching  therefrom.  Physi- 
cally he  was  a  stout,  powerful  boy,  fat,  round,  plump,  and  well  made  as 
well  as  proportioned.  This  continued  to  be  so  up  to  the  time  he  landed 
in  Salem,  Sangamon  County.  In  1825  or  1826  he  then  exhibited  a  love 
for  poetry  and  wrote  a  piece  of  humorous  rhyme  on  his  friend  Josiah 
Crawford  that  made  all  the  neighbors,  Crawford  included,  burst  their 
sides  with  laughter.  I  had  it ;  was  lost  in  the  fire.  He  was  humorous,  funny, 
witty,  and  good-humored  at  all  times.  Sarah  married  a  man  Aaroa 
Grigsby;  she  married  him  in  1822  and  died  in  about  twelve  months  in 
childbirth.  About  1826  and  7,  myself  and  Abe  went  down  to  the  Ohio  and 
cut  cordwood  at  25#  per  cord  and  bought  stuff  to  make  each  a  shirt.  We 
were  proud  of  this.  It  must  have  been  about  this  time  that  Abe  got  lacked 
by  a  horse  in  the  mill,  and  who  did  not  speak  for  several  hoars  and  when 
he  did  speak,  he  ended  the  sentence  which  he  commenced  to  the  horse,  as 
I  am  well  informed  and  believe.  From  the  last  period  1825-26  and  7* 
Lincoln  was  constantly  reading,  writing,  cipherfing]  a  little  in  Pike's 
Arithmetic.  He  excelled  any  boy  I  ever  saw,  putting  his  opportunities 
into  conversation.  He  then  some[how]  had  or  got  Barclay *s  English  Dic- 
tionary, a  part  of  which  I  have  now  and  which  can  be  seen  BOW  at  my 
house  and  which  I  am  to  give  to  W.  H.  Herndon  of  the  city  of  Spring- 
field. During  these  years  the  sports  of  Mr.  Lincoln  were  hunting,  shoot- 
ing squirrels,  jumping,  wrestling,  playing  ball,  throwing  the  mall  over- 
head. The  story  about  his  carrying  home  a  drunken  man  is  not  true  aw 
I  think  or  recollect.  He  was  good  enough  and  tender  enough  and  kind 


282  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

enough  to  have  saved  any  man  from  evil,  wrong,  difficulties,  or  damnation, 
Let  him  claim  nothing  but  what  is  true.  Truth  and  justice  and  mankind 
will  make  him  the  great  of  the  world;  he  needs  no  fictions  to  hack  him. 
Lincoln  sometimes  attempted  to  sing  but  always  failed,  but  while  this 
is  true  he  was  harmony  and  time  and  sound.  He  loved  such  music  as  he 
knew  the  words  of.  He  was  a  tricky  man  and  sometimes  when  he  went 
to  log-house  raising,  corn  shucking,  and  suchlike  things  he  would  say 
to  himself  and  sometimes  to  others :  "I  don't  want  these  fellows  to  work 
any  more,"  and  instantly  he  would  commence  his  pranks,  tricks,  jokes, 
stories,  and  sure  enough  all  would  stop,  gather  around  Abe,  and  listen, 
sometimes  crying  and  sometimes  bursting  their  sides  with  laughter.  He 
sometimes  would  mount  a  stump,  chair,  or  box  and  make  speeches — 
stories  and  stories,  anecdotes  and  suchlike  things;  he  never  failed  here. 
At  this  time  Abe  was  somewhat  [undeciphered]  he  was  now  as  wefl 
as  before  a  kind  of  forward  boy  and  sometimes  forward  too  when  he 
got  stubborn;  his  nature  went  an  entire  revolution.  One  thing  is  true  of 
him — always  was  up  to  1830  when  our  intimacy  ended,  because  he  went 
to  Sangamon  and  I  went  to  Coles  County — he  was  ambitious  and  de- 
termined, and  when  he  attempted  to  excel  man  or  boy  his  whole  soul 
and  his  energies  were  bent  on  doing  it,  and  he  in  this  generally  almost 
always  accomplished  his  ends.  From  these  years  1826  and  '27  what  has 
been  said  of  other  years  is  applicable  up  to  1830 — working,  chopping, 
toiling,  woman,  child,  and  man.  The  plays  and  sports  were  the  same. 
In  1829  (March)  Thomas  Lincoln  moved  from  Spencer  County,  Indiana, 
and  landed  in  Macon  County,  Illinois,  ten  miles  west  of  Decatur.  In  that 
spring  and  summer  the  log  cabin  which  I  now  have  on  exhibition  at  the 
Sanitary  Fair  in  Chicago  was  erected.  Lincoln  helped  cut  the  logs;  so 
did  John  Hanks.  Abe  hauled  them  and  I  hewed  them  all  and  raised  it 
the  next  day  we  raised  the  cabin.  Abraham  and  his  neighbors  had  a  mall 
railing  party  1830,  and  he  and  they  then  split  the  rails  to  fence  the  ten 
acres  of  land  which  was  done.  In  the  spring  and  summer  of  1830  the  ten 
acres  of  land  were  broken  up  into  the  place.  This  was  on  the  north  fork 
of  Sangamon  River  in  Mercer  County,  Illinois.  Lincoln  was  twenty  years 
of  [age]  when  he  left  Indiana,  not  twenty-one — as  said  in  the  books.  In 
the  fall  of  1830  he  went  down  the  Sangamon,  he  then  being  twenty-one 
years  of  age,  with  John  Hanks  in  a  boat  of  some  kind. 

I  now  have  told  you  all  I  recollect  and  think  worthy  of  being  told.  I 
hope  this  will  put  history  right,  as  I  have  taken  time  to  reflect  and  to 
refresh  my  memory  by  conversations,  times  of  well-authenticated  date,  by 
records,  friends,  and  papers.  All  of  which  I  do  hereby  certify  to  be  troe 


LKTTBfcS    TO     HEfcNBOH  283 

in  substance,  time,  and  fact,  knowing  what  is  said  to  be  true  personally 
as  I  was  an  actor  pretty  much  all  my  life  in  the  scene. 

Your  friend, 
IX  F.  HANKS. 

FROM  JOHN  HILL 

Petersburg,  IU.f  June  $7,  1865. 
Dear  Sir: 

Yours  of  21st  came  duly  to  hand.  Have  awaited  an  opportunity  to  see 
Capt.  Wright  in  relation  to  Matheny's  speech  before  replying. 

The  article  in  the  Missouri  Republican  in  relation  to  Mr.  Matheny's 
speech  at  this  place  in  1856  was  written  by  Capt.  Wright.  Also  an  article 
in  the  Index  of  corresponding  date.  The  articles  excited  considerable  sen- 
sation at  the  time.  They  were  not  verbatim  but  substantially  correct.  I 
think  I  remember  that  before  the  publication  of  the  article  in  the  Index 
it  was  submitted  to  Matheny,  and  he  endorsed  the  report  of  his  remarks. 
The  reports  in  the  two  papers  very  nearly  correspond,  and,  I  think,  aside 
from  party  coloring,  are  correct  in  every  particular. 

As  to  Mr.  Lincoln's  book  on  Infidelity,  I  gave  you  all  my  knowledge 
verbally.  Since  my  early  childhood  I  remember  to  have  heard  it  alluded 
to  hundreds  of  times  by  different  old  settlers.  Of  late  years  I  have  heard 
less  of  it,  as  these  old  men  have  many  of  them  passed  away,  I  have  a 
bitter  remembrance  of  it  by  my  father's  connection  with  it.  You  know 
that  there  are  always  some  few  things  that  strike  into  the  mind  of  a  child 
at  early  age  which  time  will  never  eradicate.  This  is  one  of  the  circum- 
stances from  which  I  date  my  earliest  remembrance.  It  could  not  liave 
been  on  account  of  Lincoln's  position,  as  at  the  time  I  knew  no  more  as 
to  who  he  was  than  I  did  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  Fiji  Islands.  When  I 
heard  of  my  father  having  morally  compelled  Mr.  Lincoln  to  bum  the 
book,  on  account  of  its  infamy,  etc.,  pointing  to  Voltaire,  Paine,  etc,,  the 
circumstance  struck  me  so  forcibly  that  I  have  never  heard  the  words  in- 
fidelity, Paine,  or  Voltaire  since  without  thinking  of  iL  My  mother  was 
strictly  religious,  and  before  hearing  of  this  I  had  always  thought  my 
father  to  be  averse  to  religion.  I  was  so  surprised  that  I  suppose  it  made 
the  deeper  impression.  As  to  date  I  do  not  know.  It  was  in  the  winter 
time,  as  tradition  says  it  was  done  in  father's  store,  while  there  was  fire  in 
the  stove,  that  there  it  was  burned. 

Your  friend, 
JOHN  HILL, 


284*  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

FROM  N.  W.  BRANDON 

Petersburg,  III.,  August  3,  1865. 
Dear  Sir: 

On  conversing  with  Mr.  Short  I  have  elicited  the  following  additional 
facts  in  reference  to  Mr.  Lincoln. 

Mr.  L.  used  to  tell  Mr.  S.  the  following  anecdote  of  himself.  Once, 
when  Mr.  L.  was  surveying,  he  was  put  to  bed,  in  the  same  room  with 
two  girls,  the  head  of  his  bed  being  next  to  the  foot  of  the  girls*  bed.  In 
the  night  he  commenced  tickling  the  feet  of  one  of  the  girls  with  his  fin- 
gers. As  she  seemed  to  enjoy  it  as  much  as  he  did,  he  then  tickled  a  lit- 
tle higher  up,  and  as  he  would  tickle  higher,  the  girl  would  shove  down 
lower,  and  the  higher  he  tickled  the  lower  she  moved.  Mr.  L.  would  tell 
the  story  with  evident  enjoyment.  He  never  told  how  the  thing  ended. 

You  can  have  the  benefit  of  the  above,  even  if  your  readers  cannot. 

Mr.  S.  says  Mr.  L.  was,  in  Salem  times,  an  habitual  reader  of  the  St. 
Louis  Republican  and  the  Sangamon  Journal.  He  used  to  read  a  great 
deal,  improving  every  opportunity,  by  day  and  by  night.  I  never  knew 
of  his  reading  a  novel.  History  and  poetry  and  the  newspapers  constituted 
the  most  of  his  reading.  Burns  seemed  to  be  his  favorite.  L.  had  a  copy 
of  The  American  Military  Biography,  which  he  read  a  great  deal.  He 
read  aloud  very  often,  and  frequently  assumed  a  lounging  position  when 
reading.  He  read  very  thoroughly,  and  had  a  most  wonderful  memory. 
Would  distinctly  remember  almost  everything  he  read.  Used  to  sit  up 
late  of  nights  reading,  and  would  recommence  in  the  morning  when  he 
got  up.  He  was  not  an  unusually  early  riser,  at  least  it  was  not  considered 
early  for  country  habits,  though  for  the  city  it  would  be  very  early. 

Mr.  L.  was  very  fond  of  honey.  Whenever  he  went  to  S/s  house  he 
invariably  asked  his  wife  for  some  bread  and  honey.  And  he  liked  a  great 
deal  of  bee  bread  in  it.  He  never  touched  liquor  of  any  kind. 

There  was  nothing  of  the  joke  about  him.  Whenever  he  went  at  any- 
thing he  went  at  it  to  do  it.  Whenever  he  walked  with  me,  he  would  keep 
me  in  a  trot  all  the  time.  Always  put  things  through  in  a  hurry.  Was  a 
fast  eater,  though  not  a  very  hearty  one.  Didn't  sleep  very  much  as  he 
always  sat  up  late. 

He  diin*t  go  to  see  the  girls  much.  He  didn't  appear  bashful,  but  it 
seemed  as  if  he  cared  but  little  for  them.  Wasn't  apt  to  take  liberties 
wttfc  ibem,  tot  would  sometimes.  He  always  liked  lively,  jovial  company* 
wisere  tihere  was  plenty  of  fun  and  no  drunkenness,  and  would  just  as  Bel 
tfee  company  were  all  mea  as  to  have  it  a  mixture  of  the  sexes.  He  was 
agreeable  in  company  and  everybody  liked  him.  Was  always  full  of 


LETTEES    TO    HE»KI>ON  285 

life  and  of  fun,  always  cheerful,  always  bad  a  story  to  tell.  Was  very 
sociable  and  fond  of  visiting.  Knew  every  man,  woman,  and  child  for 
miles  around.  Was  very  fond  of  children.  Was  fond  of  eats3  would  take 
and  turn  it  on  its  back  and  talk  to  it  for  half  an  hour  at  a  time.  I 
never  in  my  life  saw  him  out  of  humor.  He  never  got  angry.  Once  when 
Major  Hill  was  wrongly  informed  that  Mr*  L.  had  said  something  against 
his,  H.'s,  wlfe>  the  Major  abused  him  a  great  deal  for  it?  talking  to  Mr.  L. 
very  roughly  and  insultingly.  Mr.  L.  kept  his  temper,  denied  having  said 
anything  against  her,  told  the  Major  that  he  had  a  very  high  opinion  of 
her,  and  that  if  he  knew  anything  in  the  world  against  her,  it  was  the  fact 
of  her  being  his  wife. 

Mr.  L.  was  fond  of  wrestling,  in  which  he  excelled. 

Renewing  the  offer  of  my  poor  services, 

Yours  truly, 
N.  W.  BRANBOH, 


FROM  S.  A.  CRAWFORD 

Janmary  4,  1868. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  received  your  letter  of  September  28,  and  also  another  of  Decem- 
ber 15. 

I  beg  leave  to  be  excused  for  not  answering  your  Urst  letter  as  I  was 
very  busy  a-getting  ready  to  start  to  Nelson  County,  Kentucky,  to  sw 
about  my  father's  estate,  and  as  you  did  not  say  anything  about  us  wett- 
ing to  you,  we  neglected,  as  we  concluded  that  you  had  got  aU  the  infor- 
mation that  you  wanted.  There  was  one  tiling  tliat  I  did  not  think  of  tell- 
ing you,  when  you  were  here;  that  was:  the  place  you  were  sitting  c&i 
when  you  were  here  was  a  plank  that  Abraham  Lincoln  whipsawed  about 
the  year  18SG. 

We  moved  to  tttis  county  in  1824,  and  soon  after  became  acquainted 
with  the  Lincoln  family.  When  Abraham  was  a  strap  of  a  boy  and  his 
playmates  would  fall  out  with  Mm,  he  would  laugh  and  make  rhymes  and 
sing  them,  and  tell  the  boys  that  he  intended  to  be  Present  yet,  WMIe 
other  boys  would  qparrel,  he  would  appear  to  be  a  peacemaker;  and  wMk 
otters  would  romp  and  laugh,  fee  would  be  engaged  m  the  Arithmetic,  0* 
asking  questions  about  some  history,  iieard  or  read  of. 

First  Chronicles  of  Eenbem.  (N&m  flier*  «**  &  m&n  m  iiose  day *  «*A0*« 
name  ma*  &ewb®nf  and  fi«  mm*  ww  twf  great  t»  *»l^tot^  m  few#f 
and  w&me  and  wmme,  and  m  *wr$  &rm£  fe&mcMd,  <m$  il 


286  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

that  when  the  sons  of  Reuben  grew  up,  that  they  were  desirous  of  taking 
to  themselves  wives,  and  being  too  well  known  as  to  honor,  in  their  own 
country,  so  they  took  to  themselves  a  journey  into  a  far  country;  and 
procured  to  themselves  wives.  And  it  came  to  pass  that  when  they  were 
about  to  make  the  return  home,  that  they  sent  a  messenger  before  them 
to  bear  the  tidings  to  their  parents;  so,  they  inquired  of  the  messengers, 
what  their  sons  and  their  wives  would  come.  So,  they  made  a  great  feast 
and  called  all  their  kinsmen  and  neighbors  in,  and  made  great  prepara- 
tions; so,  when  the  time  drew  near,  they  sent  out  two  men  to  meet  the 
grooms  and  their  wives  with  a  treat  to  welcome  them  and  to  accompany' 
them;  so,  when  they  came  near  to  the  house  of  Reuben,  their  father,  the 
messengers  came  on  before  them  and  gave  a  shout,  and  the  whole  mul- 
titude ran  out  with  shouts  of  joy,  and  music  playing  on  all  kinds  of  in- 
struments of  music,  some  playing  on.  harps,  and  some  on  viols,  and  some 
blowing  on  rams9  horns,  some  casting  dust  and  ashes  toward  Heaven; 
and  amongst  the  rest  Josiah  blowing  his  bugle,  making  sound  so  great 
that  it  made  the  neighboring  hills  and  valleys  echo  with  the  resounding 
acclamation;  so  when  they  had  played  and  harped,  sounded,  till  the  grooms 
and  brides  approached  the  gate,  the  father,  Reuben,  met  them  and  wel- 
comed them  in  to  his  house,  and  the  wedding  dinner  being  now  ready,  they 
were  all  invited  to  sit  down  to  dinner.  Placing  the  bridegrooms  and  their 
wives  at  each  end  of  the  table,  waiters  were  then  appointed  to  carve  and 
wait  on  the  guests;  so,  when  they  had  all  eaten,  and  were  full  and  merry, 
they  went  out  and  sang  and  played  till  evening,  and  when  they  had  made 
an  end  of  feasting  and  rejoicing,  the  multitude  dispersed,  each  to  his  own 
home;  the  family  then  took  seats  with  their  waiters  to  converse  awhile, 
at  which  time  preparations  were  being  made  in  an  upper  chamber  for  the 
brides  to  be  first  conveyed  by  the  waiters  to  their  beds;  this  being  done, 
the  waiters  took  the  two  brides  upstairs  to  their  beds,  placing  one  in  a 
bed  at  the  right  hand  of  the  stairs  and  the  other  on  the  left.  The  waiters 
came  downf  and  Nancy  the  mother  Inquired  of  the  waiters,  which  of  the 
brides  was  placed  on  the  right  hand  and  they  told  her.  So,  she  gave  direc- 
tions to  the  waiters  of  the  bridegrooms,  and  then  they  took  the  bride- 
grooms and  placed  them  in  the  wrong  beds,  and  came  downstairs;  but 
the  mother  being  fearful  that  there  might  be  a  mistake,  inquired  again 
of  the  waiters  and  learning  the  fact,  took  the  light  and  sprang  upstairs, 
and  running  to  one  of  the  beds  exclaimed:  Reuben!  you  are  in  bed  with 
Charles's  wife!  The  young  men,  both  being  alarmed,  sprang  out  of  bed 
and  ran  with  such  violence  against  each  other,  that  they  came  very  near 
knocking  each  other  down,  which  gave  evidence  to  those  below  that  the 
mistake  was  certain.  They  all  came  down  and  had  a  conversation  about 


LETTERS    TO     HERN PON  287 

who  had  made  the  mistake,  but  it  could  not  be  decided.')  So  ended  the 
chapter. 

I  will  tell  you  a  joke  about  Joel  and  Mary;  it  is  neither  a  joke  or  a 
story,  for  Reuben  and  Charles  had  married  two  girls,  but  Billy  has  mar- 
ried a  boy. 

The  girls  he  had  tried  on  every  side 
But  none  could  he  get  to  agree; 
All  was  in  vain,  he  went  home  again 
And  since  that,  he  is  married  to  Natty. 

So  Billy  and  Natty  agreed  very  well; 

And  mamma's  well  pleased  at  the  match. 

The  egg  it  is  laid  but  Natty's  afraid, 

The  shell  is  so  soft  that  it  never  will  hatch. 

But  Betsey,  she  said:  "You  cursed  baldhead> 

My  suitor  you  never  can  be; 

Besides,  your  low  crotch  proclaims  you  a  botch 

And  that  never  can  answer  for  me." 

This  memorized  by  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Crawford,  an  old  blind  lady,  that 
can  hardly  see;  written  by  her  son  and  forwarded. 

S.  A.  CRAWFORD. 


FROM  S.  A.  CRAWFORD 

January  8,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  have  done  as  you  requested  me  to  do.  I  have  written  all  of  the  Chron- 
icles of  Reuben,  and  poetry  that  my  old  mother  could  memorize  of  Mr. 
Lincoln  writing  at  the  time  he  worked  with  her  and  father.  At  the  time 
Mr.  Lincoln  wrote  this,  it  appears  that  there  was  a  little  coolness  existing 
between  the  two  families.  Mr.  Lincoln  not  being  invited  to  the  great  wed- 
ding feast,  made  use  of  a  little  of  his  novelty,  in  stating  facts  that  did 
occur. 

Reuben  did  go  to  bed  with  Charles's  wife,  and  Charles  to  bed  witib 
Reuben's  wife.  I  took  the  Reuben's  Chronicles  to  Gentryville  and  read 
them  in  public,  R.  D.  Grigsby,  being  present,  got  very  mad  over  it, 
Natty,  who  married  Billy,  being  present,  affirmed  the  same  to  be  false. 

I  am  very  anxious  for  one  of  the  books  of  your  great  intended  work. 

Yours  truly, 

S.  A.  CRAWFORD^ 


288  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

FROM  J.  GILLESPIE 

Edward$ville>  January  31, 1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Yours  enclosing  a  sketch  of  your  lecture  on  the  character  of  Mr. 
Lincoln  is  received  and  I  must  say  that  I  think  you  have  delineated  him 
with  great  truth  and  force.  You  wish  me  to  give  you  my  views  and  recol- 
lections respecting  him.  Ever  since  his  death  I  have  been  endeavoring  to 
recall  to  mind  his  prominent  twists  of  character  and  I  must  confess  that 
the  task  is  no  easy  one.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  but  few  peculiarities  and  hardly 
an  eccentricity.  His  mind  was  made  up  of  the  traits  which  belong  to  man- 
kind generally.  He  was  a  remarkably  temperate  man,  eschewing  every 
indulgence,  not  so  much,  as  it  seemed  to  me,  from  principle  as  from  a 
want  of  appetites.  I  never  heard  him  declaim  against  the  use  of  tobacco 
or  other  stimulants  although  he  never  indulged  in  them.  He  was  genial 
but  not  very  sociable.  He  did  not  seek  company,  but  when  he  was  in  it,  he 
was  the  most  entertaining  person  I  ever  knew.  He  was  once  pressed  into 
service  to  entertain  Mr.  Van  Bur  en  at  Rochester  in  your  county  and  he 
succeeded  to  admiration.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  ambitious  but  not  very  aspiring. 
He  was  anxious  to  be  in  Congress,  but  I  think  he  never  aspired  to  any- 
thing higher  until  the  prospect  for  the  Presidency  burst  upon  him.  I  am 
very  sure  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  aware  of  his  own  abilities  or  standing 
and  that  he  never  expected  to  attain  a  very  marked  distinction.  In  1858 
he  made  a  speech  in  this  place  and  had  an  appointment  for  one  next  day 
at  Greenville.  I  took  him  out  in  my  buggy.  On  the  way  the  principal  sub- 
ject of  conversation  was  the  canvass  he  was  conducting  with  Mr.  Douglas. 
Knowing  Lincoln's  power  of  using  anecdotes,  I  asked  why  he  did  not 
employ  them  in  the  discussion.  He  replied  that  he  thought  the  occasion 
was  too  grave  and  serious.  He  said  that  the  principal  complaint  he  had 
to  make  against  Mr.  Douglas  was  his  continual  assumption  of  superiority 
on  account  of  his  elevated  position.  Mr.  Lincoln's  idea  was  that  in  the 
discussion  of  great  questions  nothing  adventitious  should  be  lugged  in  as 
a  makeweight.  That  was  contrary  to  his  notions  of  fairness.  His  love  of 
wealth  was  very  weak.  I  asked  him  on  the  trip  above  spoken  of  how  much 
land  he  owned.  He  said  that  the  house  and  lot  he  lived  on  and  one  forty- 
acre  tract  was  all  the  real  estate  he  owned  and  that  he  got  the  forty  for 
his  services  in  the  Black  Hawk  War.  I  inquired  why  he  never  speculated 
in  land,  and  pointed  to  a  tract  that  I  had  located  with  a  land  warrant 
which  cost  me  ninety  cents  an  acre.  He  said  he  had  no  capacity  whatever 
for  speculation  and  never  attempted  it.  All  the  use  Mr.  Lincoln  had  for 
wealth  was  to, enable  him  to  appear  respectable.  He  never  hoarded  nor 


LETTERS     TO     HE END ON  289 

wasted  but  used  money  as  he  needed  it  and  gave  himself  little  or  no  con- 
cern about  laying  up.  He  was  the  most  indulgent  parent  I  ever  knew.  His 
children  literally  ran  over  him  and  he  was  powerless  to  withstand  their 
importunities.  He  was  remarkably  tender  of  the  feelings  of  others  and 
never  wantonly  offended  even  the  most  despicable,  although  he  was  a  man 
of  great  nerve  when  aroused.  I  have  seen  him  on  several  occasions  display 
great  heroism  when  the  circumstances  seemed  to  demand  it.  He  was  very 
sensitive  where  he  thought  he  had  failed  to  come  up  to  the  expectations  of 
his  friends.  I  remember  a  case.  He  was  pitted  by  the  Whigs  in  1840  to 
debate  with  Mr.  Douglas,  the  Democratic  champion.  Lincoln  did  not  come 
up  to  the  requirements  of  the  occasion.  He  was  conscious  of  his  failure 
and  I  never  saw  any  man  so  much  distressed.  He  begged  to  be  permitted 
to  try  it  again  and  was  reluctantly  indulged,  and  in  the  next  effort  he 
transcended  our  highest  expectations.  I  never  heard  and  never  expect 
to  hear  such  a  triumphant  vindication  as  he  then  gave  of  Whig  measures 
on  policy.  He  never  often  to  my  knowledge  fell  below  himself.  In  re- 
ligious matters  Mr.  Lincoln  was  theoretically  a  predestinarian.  His  stern 
logic  and  perhaps  early  bias  led  him  to  that  result.  He  was  never  ashamed 
of  the  poverty  and  obscurity  of  his  early  life.  He  was  thoroughly  master 
of  all  the  phases  of  frontier  life  and  woodscraft,  and  his  most  amusing 
stories  consisted  of  incidents  in  his  boyish  days  amongst  his  country  play- 
fellows. He  had  a  marvelous  relish  for  everything  of  that  sort  and  the 
happiest  faculty  of  turning  his  numerous  reminiscences  to  good  account 
in  illustration  in  after  life.  No  man  could  tell  a  story  as  well  as  he  could. 
He  never  missed  the  nib  of  an  anecdote.  He  always  maintained  stoutly 
that  the  best  stories  originated  with  country  boys  and  in  the  rural  districts. 
He  had  great  faith  in  the  strong  sense  of  country  people  and  he  gave  them 
credit  for  greater  intelligence  than  most  men  do.  If  he  found  an  idea  pre- 
vailing generally  amongst  them,  he  believed  there  was  something  in  it, 
although  it  might  not  harmonize  with  science.  He  had  great  faith  in  the 
virtues  of  the  mad  stone,  although  he  could  give  no  reason  for  it  and  con- 
fessed that  it  looked  like  a  superstition,  but  he  said  he  found  the  people 
in  the  neighborhood  of  these  stones  fully  impressed  with  a  belief  in  their 
virtues  from  actual  experiment  and  that  was  about  as  much  as  we  could 
ever  know  of  the  properties  of  medicine.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  more  respect 
for  and  confidence  in  the  masses  than  any  statesman  this  country  has 
ever  produced.  He  told  me  in  the  spring  of  1864  that  the  people  were 
greatly  ahead  of  the  politicians  in  their  effort  for  and  confidence  in  put- 
ting down  the  rebellion.  He  said  the  government  had  been  driven  by  tfe 
public  voice  into  the  employment  of  means  and  the  adoption  of 
for  carrying  on  the  war  which  they  would  not  have  dared  to  put 


290 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 


practice  without  such  backing.  He  prized  the  suggestions  of  the  unsophis- 
ticated people  more  than  what  was  called  statecraft  or  political  wisdom. 
He  really  believed  that  the  voice  of  the  People  in  our  emergency  was 
next  thing  to  the  voice  of  God.  He  said  he  had  no  doubt  whatever  of  our 
success  in  overthrowing  the  rebellion  at  the  right  time.  God,  he  said,  was 
with  us  and  the  people  were  behaving  so  nobly  that  all  doubt  had  been 
removed  from  his  mind  as  to  our  ultimate  success.  The  army  and  the 
navy,  he  said,  were  in  the  right  trim  and  in  the  right  hands.  He  firmly 
believed  that  no  people  in  ancient  or  modern  times  had  evinced  as  much 
patriotism  or  such  a  self-sacrificing  spirit  as  the  loyal  people  of  the 
United  States.  But  Mr.  Lincoln's  love  of  justice  and  fair  play  was  his 
predominating  trait.  I  have  often  listened  to  him  when  I  thought  he  would 
certainly  state  his  case  out  of  court.  It  was  not  in  his  nature  to  assume 
or  attempt  to  bolster  up  a  false  position.  He  would  abandon  his  case  first. 
He  did  so  in  the  case  of  Buckmaster  £or  the  use  of  Denham  vs.  Burns  and 
Arthur  in  our  Supreme  Court  in  which  I  happened  to  be  opposed  to  him. 
Another  gentleman  less  fastidious  took  Mr.  Lincoln's  place  and  joined 
the  case.  In  1856  Mr.  Lincoln  had  set  his  heart  upon  the  United  States 
Senate.  There  was  a  majority  for  the  first  time  in  the  history  of  Illinois 
against  the  Democratic  party  in  the  Legislature.  This  result  was  mainly 
attributable  to  his  efforts,  and  he  was  the  first  choice  of  all  but  five  of 
the  opposition  members.  I  was  a  member  and  enthusiastically  for  Lincoln. 
We,  his  friends,  regarded  this  as  perhaps  his  last  chance  for  that  high 
position.  There  was  danger,  if  we  did  not  succeed  in  electing  our  man 
soon,  that  some  of  the  members  who  had  been  elected  as  f  ree-soilers  would 
go  over  to  Matteson  and  elect  him.  When  the  voting  commenced  to  our 
amazement  five  of  our  men  steadily  refused  to  vote  for  Mr.  Lincoln  and 
threw  their  votes  upon  Judge  TrumbuU.  After  several  ballots  I  went  to 
Mr.  Lincoln  and  asked  him  what  he  thought  we  ought  to  do.  He  said  un- 
hesitatingly: "You  ought  to  drop  me  and  go  for  TrumbuU.  That  is  the 
only  way  you  can  defeat  Matteson."  Judge  Logan  came  up  about  that 
time  and  insisted  on  running  Lincoln  still,  but  the  latter  said:  "If  you  do, 
you  wiU  lose  both  TrumbuU  and  myself,  and  I  think  the  cause  in  this  case 
is  to  be  preferred  to  men."  We  adopted  his  suggestion  and  turned  upon 
TrumbuU  and  elected  him.  Although  it  grieved  us  to  the  heart  to  give 
up  Mr.  Lincoln,  this,  I  think,  shows  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  capable  of 
sinking  himself  for  the  cause  in  which  he  was  engaged.  Mr.  Lincoln's 
sense  of  justice  was  intensely  strong.  It  was  to  this  mainly  that  his  hatred 
of  slavery  may  be  attributed.  He  abhorred  the  institution.  It  was  about 
the  only  public  question  on  which  he  would  become  excited.  I  recaU  a 
meeting  with  him  once  at  Shelbyville  when  he  remarked  that  something 


LETTERS     TO     HERNDOH  201 

must  be  done  or  slavery  would  overrun  the  whole  country.  He  said  there 
were  about  600,000  non-slaveholding  whites  in  Kentucky  to  about  33,000 
slaveholders;  that  in  the  convention  there  recently  held  it  was  expected 
that  the  delegates  would  represent  these  classes  about  in  proportion  to 
their  respective  numbers,  but  when  the  convention  assembled  there  was 
not  a  single  representative  of  the  non-slaveholding  class.  Everyone  was 
in  the  interest  of  the  slaveholders  and,  said  he :  "This  thing  is  spreading 
like  wildfire  over  the  country.  In  a  few  years  we  will  be  ready  to  accept 
the  institution  in  Illinois,  and  the  whole  country  will  adopt  it."  I  asked 
him  to  what  he  attributed  the  change  that  was  going  on  in  public  opinion* 
He  said  he  had  put  that  question  to  a  Kentuckian  shortly  before,  who 
answered  by  saying:  "You  might  have  any  amount  of  land,  money  in 
your  pocket,  or  bank  stock,  and  while  traveling  around  nobody  would  be 
any  the  wiser ;  but  if  you  had  a  donkey  trudging  at  your  heels,  every  body- 
would  see  him  and  know  that  you  owned  slaves.  It  is  the  most  glittering, 
ostentatious,  and  displaying  property  in  the  world;  and  now,"  says  he, 
"if  a  young  man  goes  courting,  the  only  inquiry  is  how  many  Negroes  he 
or  she  owns  and  not  what  other  property  they  may  have."  The  love  for 
slave  property  was  swallowing  up  every  other  mercenary  passion.  Its 
ownership  betokened  not  only  the  possession  of  wealth  but  indicated  the 
gentleman  of  leisure  who  was  above  and  scorned  labor.  These  things  Mr. 
Lincoln  regarded  as  highly  seductive  to  the  thoughtless  and  giddy-headed 
young  men  who  looked  upon  work  as  vulgar  and  ungentlemanly.  Mr.  Lin- 
coln was  really  excited  and  said  with  great  earnestness  that  this  spirit 
ought  to  be  met  and  if  possible  checked.  That  slavery  was  a  great  and 
crying  injustice,  an  enormous  national  crime,  and  that  we  could  not  ex- 
pect to  escape  punishment  for  it.  I  asked  him  how  he  would  proceed  in 
his  efforts  to  check  the  speed  of  slavery.  He  confessed  that  he  did  not 
see  his  way  clearly.  I  think  he  made  up  his  mind  from  that  time  that 
he  would  oppose  slavery  actively.  I  know  that  Mr.  Lincoln  always  con- 
tended that  no  man  had  any  right,  other  than  mere  brute  force  gave  Mm, 
to  a  slave.  He  used  to  say  that  it  was  singular  that  the  courts  would  hold 
that  a  man  never  lost  his  right  to  his  property  that  bad  been  stolen  from 
him  but  that  he  instantly  lost  his  right  to  himself  if  he  was  stolen.  Mr. 
Lincoln  always  contended  that  the  cheapest  way  of  getting  rid  of  slavery 
was  for  the  nation  to  buy  the  slaves  and  set  them  free.  As  you  say,  Mr. 
Lincoln  could  hardly  be  considered  a  genius,  a  poet,  or  an  inventor,  bu% 
he  had  the  qualities  of  a  reformer.  He  endeavored  to  bring  back  things  to 
the  old  landmarks  but  he  never  would  have  attempted  to  invent  and  COHE^ 
pose  new  systems.  He  had  boldness  enough,  when  he  found  the  building 
rocked  and  going  to  decay,  to  restore  it  to  its  original  design,  but  not 


292  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

to  contrive  a  new  and  distinct  edifice.  He  believed  that  the  framers  of  our 
government  expected  slavery  to  die  out  and  adapted  the  system  to  that 
end  but  that  their  views  were  being  frustrated  by  adventitious  circum- 
stances by  which  we  were  surrounded  and  the  political  ideas  which  had 
begun  to  take  root  just  before  the  Revolution  than  to  any  superior  in- 
telligence or  liberality  on  our  part.  He  contended  that  we  were  more  in- 
debted to  our  government  than  it  was  to  us,  and  that  we  were  not  entitled 
to  greater  credit  for  our  liberality  of  sentiment  on  political  questions  than 
others  equally  liberal  who  were  born  and  raised  under  less  favorable 
auspices.  Mr.  Lincoln  never,  I  think,  studied  history  except  in  connection 
with  politics ;  with  the  exception  of  the  history  of  the  Netherlands  and  of 
the  revolutions  of  1640  and  1688  in  England  and  of  our  revolutionary 
struggle,  he  regarded  it  as  of  trifling  value  as  teaching  by  example.  Indeed 
he  thought  that  history  as  generally  written  was  altogether  too  unreliable. 
In  this  connection  he  alluded  to  the  fact  that  General  I.  D.  Henry,  the 
most  prominent  figure  in  the  Black  Hawk  War  of  1832,  was  completely 
ignored  by  the  historians.  He  also  referred  to  the  almost  universal  belief 
that  a  spirited  passage  at  arms  took  place  in  Congress  between  Tristram 
Burgess  and  John  Randolph  when,  as  Mr.  Lincoln  said,  he  never  be- 
lieved they  had  been  in  Congress  together. 

The  above  is  about  all  I  can  scrape  up  relating  to  Mr.  Lincoln.  If  it 
is  of  any  use  to  you,  you  are  welcome  to  it. 

Your  friend, 
J.  GILLESPIE. 


FROM  ELIZABETH  CRAWFORD 

February  21,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Your  letter  of  the  5th  came  to  hand  in  due  time,  and  we  should  have 
answered  it  sooner,  but  our  business  has  been  so  that  we  could  not  con- 
veniently have  time.  You  wished  me  to  tell  you  whether  Abraham  Lincoln 
ever  made  any  pretensions  of  religion  during  his  stay  in  this  country. 
I  never  heard  of  his  ever  making  any  such  pretensions.  I  don't  think  he 
ever  did;  though  he  seemed  to  be  a  well-wisher,  he  went  to  meeting  some- 
times, and  was  well  behaved.  You  also  wished  to  know  what  songs  he 
used  to  sing.  I  can't  remember  many  of  them.  He  used  to  sing  one  that 
was  called  "John  Anderson's  Lamentation/'  and  one  that  was  called  "Wil- 


LET TEES     TO     HE  EN  BON  293 

Ham  Riley/*  and  one  that  was  made  about  General  Jackson  and  John 
Adams,  at  the  time  they  were  nominated  for  the  Presidency;  though  I 
can't  memorize  but  very  little  of  any  of  them.  He  sang  but  very  little  when 
he  was  about  the  house;  he  was  not  noisy.  As  to  his  jests  or  jokes,  I  can't 
recollect,  though  he  had  a  good  many.  I  will  give  you  as  much  of  his 
favorite  songs  as  I  can  memorize,  as  follows: 


John  Anderson's  Lamentation 

0  sinners!  poor  sinners!  take  warning  by  me; 
The  fruits  of  transgressing,  behold  now  and  see; 
My  soul  is  tormented,  my  body  confined; 

My  friends  and  dear  children  left  weeping  behind. 

Much  intoxication,  my  ruin  has  been; 
And  my  dear  companions  have  barbarously  slain, 
In  yonder  cold  graveyard,  her  body  doth  lie, 
Whilst  I  am  condemned,  and  shortly  must  die. 

Remember  John  Anderson's  death  and  reform 
Before  Death  overtakes  you  and  vengeance  comes  on. 
My  griefs  overwhelming,  in  God  I  must  trust; 

1  am  justly  condemned,  my  sentence  is  just. 

I  am  waiting  the  summons,  in  eternity  to  be  hurled; 
Whilst  my  poor  little  orphans  are  cast  on  the  world* 
I  hope  my  kind  neighbors  their  guardians  will  be; 
And  Heaven,  kind  Heaven,  protect  them  and  me. 

Mr.  Herndon,  I  have  given  you  as  much  of  the  above  song  as  I  could 
memorize. 

This  was  a  favorite  song  of  Abraham  Lincoln's, 

Now  I  will  give  you  a  line  or  two  of  the  Jackson  song,  that  he  used 
to  sing,  and  then  I  will  have  to  close  as  my  eyes  are  so  weak  that  I  can't 
see  the  lines  on  the  paper. 

Let  auld  acquaintance  be  forgot, 
And  never  brought  to  mind, 
And  Jackson,  he,  our  President; 
And  Adams,  left  behind. 

Excuse  bad  writing, 
ELIZABETH 


294  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

FROM  ELIZABETH  CRAWFORD 

May  8,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Your  letter  of  April  19  has  come  to  hand  and  I  was  glad  to  hear  that 
you  were  well  pleased  with  what  I  had  written.  You  wish  me  to  tell  you 
the  names  of  some  of  our  wild  woods  flowers.  There  is  the  wild  sweet 
william,  wild  pink,  lady  slipper,  wild  roses,  butterfly  weed,  wild  honey- 
suckle, blue  flag,  yellow  flag,  and  there  is  a  great  many  other  kinds,  that 
I  can't  recollect  the  names  of  at  this  time. 

Now  I  will  give  you  the  names  of  some  of  the  garden  flowers  that  were 
cultivated  in  this  country  by  the  first  settlers  or  nearly  so,  say  in  1824- 
26  and  on  for  several  years,  and  some  of  them  till  this  time.  The  sweet 
pink,  the  poppy,  the  marigold,  the  larkspur,  the  touch-me-not,  the  pretty- 
by-night,  the  lady-in-the-green,  the  sword  lily,  the  flower  bean,  the  holly- 
hock, the  bachelor's  button— these  buttons  the  girls  used  to  string  and 
hang  them  up  in  their  houses  for  an  ornament;  they  were  very  pretty,  as 
there  were  white  ones  and  red  ones.  The  roses,  the  sweet  or  damask  rose, 
the  pinny,  the  old  maid's  eyes,  the  velvet  pink,  the  mullen  pink,  the  garden 
sweet  williams,  the  Carolina  pink. 

You  wish  me  to  tell  you  the  names  of  some  of  the  trees  that  grew  in 
Spencer  County.  The  black  oak,  the  white  oak,  the  poplar,  the  dogwood, 
the  hickory,  the  sweet  gum,  the  maple,  the  redbud,  ash,  and  many  other 
kinds.  I  will  give  you  a  few  more  of  the  names :  the  willow,  box  elder,  the 
plum,  the  crab  apple,  the  elm,  the  catalpa — this  is  a  beautiful  tree  when 
in  full  bloom;  the  wild  plum  is  plentiful  in  places  in  this  country. 

Well,  now  I  will  give  you  a  part  or  all  of  a  song  that  Abraham  Lincoln 
used  to  sing,  called  it  "Adam  and  Eve's  Wedding  Song."  This  song  was 
sung  at  Abraham's  sister's  wedding.  I  do  not  know  [whether]  A.  Lincoln 
composed  this  song  or  not.  The  first  that  I  ever  heard  of  it  was,  the  Lin- 
coln family  sung  it.  I  rather  think  that  A.  L.  composed  it  himself,  but  I 
am  not  certain. 

I  know  that  he  was  in  the  habit  of  making  songs,  and  singing  of  them. 
I  do  not  wish  to  write  anything  but  the  truth;  I  have  aimed  at  that  all 
the  time.  I  wish  he  had  a  true  history,  and  hope  to  read  a  true  one,  when 
yours  is  done. 

"Adam  and  Eve's  Wedding  Song"  as  follows : 

When  Adam  'was  created,  he  dwelt  in  Eden's  shade, 
As  Moses  lias  recorded;  and  soon  an  Eve  was  made* 
Ten  thousand  times  ten  thousand 


I/ETTEB.S     TO     H  E  B,  N  D  O  N  295 

Of  creatures  swarmed  around 
Before  a  bride  was  formed 
And  yet  no  mate  was  found. 

The  Lord  then  was  not  willing 
The  man  should  be  alone 
But  caused  a  sleep  upon  him 
And  took  from  him  a  bone. 

And  closed  the  flesh  in  that  place 
And  then  he  took  the  same 
And  of  it  made  a  woman 
And  brought  her  to  the  man. 

Then  Adam  he  rejoiced 
To  see  his  loving  bride, 
A  part  of  his  own  body, 
The  product  of  his  side. 

This  woman  was  not  taken 
From  Adam's  feet  we  see, 
So  he  must  not  abuse  her. 
The  meaning  seems  to  be. 

This  woman  was  not  taken 
From  Adam's  head,  we  know, 
To  show  she  must  not  rule  him; 
*Ti$  evidently  so. 

This  woman  she  was  taken 
From  under  Adam's  arm, 
So  she  must  be  protected 
From  injuries  and  harm. 

Mr.  Herndon,  please  excuse  bad  writing  and  mistakes  as  I  am  so  blind 
that  I  can't  see  the  lines  on  the  paper. 

ELIZABETH  CRAWFORD. 


FROM  LEONARD  SWETT 

Chicago,  July  17, 1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  received  your  letter  today,  asking  me  to  write  yon  by  Friday.  Fear* 
ing,  if  I  delay,  you  will  not  get  it  done  in  time,  I  will  give  you  such  hasty 


296  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

thoughts  as  may  occur  to  me  tonight.  I  have  mislaid  your  second  lecture, 
so  that  I  have  not  read  it  at  all,  and  have  not  read  your  first  one  since 
about  the  time  it  was  published.  What  I  shall  say  therefore  will  be  based 
upon  my  own  ideas  rather  than  a  review  of  the  lectures.  Lincoln's  whole 
life  was  a  calculation  of  the  law  of  forces  and  ultimate  results.  The  world 
to  him  was  a  question  of  cause  and  effect.  He  believed  the  results  to  which 
certain  causes  tended  would  surely  follow.  He  did  not  believe  that  these 
results  could  be  materially  hastened  or  impeded.  His  whole  political  his- 
tory, especially  since  the  agitation  of  the  slavery  question,  has  been  based 
upon  this  theory.  He  believed  from  the  first,  I  think,  that  the  agitation  of 
slavery  would  produce  its  overthrow,  and  he  acted  upon  the  result  as 
though  it  was  present  from  the  beginning.  His  tactics  were  to  get  himself 
in  the  right  place  and  remain  there  still  until  events  would  find  him  in 
that  place.  This  course  of  action  led  him  to  say  and  do  things  which  could 
not  be  understood  when  considered  in  reference  to  the  immediate  sur- 
roundings in  which  they  were  done  or  said.  You  will  remember  in  his  cam- 
paign against  Douglas  in  1858  the  first  ten  lines  of  the  first  speech  he  made 
defeated  him.  The  sentiment  of  the  "house  divided  against  itself"  seemed 
wholly  inappropriate.  It  was  a  speech  made  at  the  commencement  of  a 
campaign  and  apparently  made  for  the  campaign.  Viewing  it  in  this  light 
alone,  nothing  could  have  been  more  unfortunate  or  inappropriate.  It 
was  saying  just  the  wrong  thing,  yet  he  saw  it  was  an  abstract  truth, 
and  standing  by  the  speech  would  ultimately  find  him  in  the  right  place. 
I  was  inclined  at  the  time  to  believe  these  words  were  hastily  and  in- 
considerately uttered,  but  subsequent  facts  have  convinced  me  they  were 
deliberate  and  had  been  matured.  Judge  T.  L.  Dickey  says  that  at  Bloom- 
ington  at  the  first  Republican  Convention  in  1856  he  uttered  the  same 
sentences  in  a  speech  delivered  there,  and  that  after  the  meeting  was  over, 
he — Dickey — called  his  attention  to  these  remarks.  Lincoln  justified  him- 
self in  making  them  by  stating  they  were  true,  but  finally  at  Dickey's 
urgent  request  he  promised  that  for  his  sake  or  upon  his  advice  he  would 
not  repeat  them.  In  the  summer  of  1859,  when  he  was  driving  with  a  party 
of  his  intimate  friends  at  Bloomington,  the  subject  of  his  Springfield 
speech  was  discussed.  We  all  insisted  it  was  a  great  mistake,  but  he  justi- 
fied himself  and  finally  said:  "Well,  gentlemen,  you  may  think  that  speech 
was  a  mistake,  but  I  never  have  believed  it  was,  and  you  will  see  the 
day  when  you  will  consider  it  was  the  wisest  thing  I  ever  said."  He  never 
believed  in  political  combinations,  he  never  believed  any  class  of  men 
could  accomplish  in  politics  any  particular  given  purpose,  and  conse- 
quently whether  an  individual  man  or  class  of  men  supported  or  opposed 
made  any  difference  in  his  feelings  or  his  opinions  of  his  own 


LETTERS     TO     HEENDON  297 

success.  If  he  was  elected,  he  seemed  to  believe  that  no  person  or  class 
of  persons  could  ever  have  defeated  him,  and  if  defeated,  he  believed 
nothing  could  ever  have  elected  him.  Hence  when  he  was  a  candidate  he 
never  wanted  anything  done  for  him.  He  seemed  to  want  to  let  the  whole 
question  alone,  and  for  everybody  else  to  do  the  same.  I  remember  after 
the  Chicago  Convention,  when  a  great  portion  of  the  East  were  known 
to  be  dissatisfied  at  his  nomination,  when  fierce  conflicts  were  going  on 
in  New  York  and  Pennsylvania,  and  when  great  exertions  seemed  requi- 
site to  harmonize  and  mold  in  concert  the  action  of  our  friends,  Lincoln 
always  seemed  to  oppose  all  efforts  made  in  that  direction.  I  arranged 
with  Mr.  Thurlow  Weed  after  the  Chicago  Convention  to  meet  him  at 
Springfield.  I  was  present  at  the  interview,  but  he  said  nothing.  It  was 
proposed  that  Judge  Davis  should  go  to  New  York  and  Pennsylvania  to 
survey  the  field  and  see  what  was  necessary  to  be  done.  Lincoln  consented, 
but  it  was  always  my  opinion  that  he  consented  reluctantly.  He  said  that 
the  pressure  of  a  campaign  was  an  external  force  coercing  the  party  into 
unity.  If  it  failed  to  produce  that  result,  he  believed  any  individual  effort 
would  also  fail.  If  the  desired  result  followed,  he  considered  it  attribu- 
table to  the  great  cause  and  not  aided  by  the  lesser  ones.  He  sat  down 
in  his  chair  at  Springfield  and  made  himself  the  Mecca  to  which  all  poli- 
ticians made  pilgrimages.  He  told  them  all  a  story,  said  nothing,  and 
sent  them  away.  All  his  efforts  to  procure  a  second  nomination  were  in 
the  same  direction.  I  believe  he  earnestly  desired  that  nomination.  He 
was  much  more  eager  for  it  than  he  was  for  the  first  one,  and  yet  from 
the  first  he  discouraged  all  efforts  on  the  part  of  his  friends  to  obtain 
it.  From  the  middle  of  his  first  term  all  his  adversaries  were  busy  at  and 
for  themselves.  Chase  had  then  a  few  secret  societies  and  an  immense 
patronage  extending  all  over  the  country,  Fremont  was  constantly  at  work, 
yet  Lincoln  would  never  do  anything  either  to  hinder  them  or  to  help 
himself.  He  was  considered  too  conservative  and  his  adversaries  were  try- 
ing to  outstrip  him  in  satisfying  the  radical  element.  I  had  a  conversa- 
tion with  him  upon  this  subject  in  October  1863  and  tried  to  induce  him 
to  recommend  in  his  annual  message  the  constitutional  amendment  abol- 
ishing slavery.  I  told  him  I  was  not  very  radical  but  I  believed  the  results 
of  this  war  would  be  the  extermination  of  slavery;  that  Congress  would 
pass  the  resolution  and  that  it  was  proper  at  that  time  to  be  done.  I 
told  him,  if  he  took  that  stand,  it  was  an  outside  position  and  no  one  could 
maintain  himself  upon  any  measure  more  radical,  and  if  he  failed  to  take 
the  position,  his  rivals  would.  Turning  to  me  suddenly  he  said:  "Is  not 
that  question  doing  well  enough  now?"  I  replied  that  it  was.  "Well,"  said 
he,  "I  have  never  done  an  official  act  with  a  view  to  promote  my  own 


298  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

personal  aggrandizement  and  I  don't  like  to  begin  now.  I  can  see  that 
time  coming — whoever  can  wait  for  it  will  see  it — whoever  stands  in  its 
way  will  be  run  over  by  it."  His  rivals  were  using  money  profusely.  Jour- 
nals and  influences  were  being  subsidized  against  him.   I  accidentally 
learned  that  a  Washington  newspaper  through  a  purchase  of  the  establish- 
ment was  to  be  turned  against  him,  and  consulted  him  about  taking  steps 
to  prevent  it.  The  only  thing  I  could  get  him  to  say  was  that  he  would 
regret  to  see  the  paper  turned  against  him.  Whatever  was  done  had  to 
be  done  without  his  knowledge.  Bennett  with  his  paper,  you  know,  is  a 
power.  The  old  fellow  wanted  to  be  noticed  by  Lincoln  and  he  wanted 
to  support  him.  A  friend  of  his  who  was  certainly  in  his  secrets  .  .  . 
came  over  to  Washington  and  intimated,  if  Lincoln  would  invite  Bennett 
to  come  over  and  chat  with  him,  his  paper  would  be  all  right.  Bennett 
wanted  nothing.  He  simply  wanted  to  be  noticed.  Lincoln  in  talking  about 
it  said:  "I  understood  it.  Bennett  has  made  a  great  deal  of  money — some 
say  not  very  properly — now  he  wants  me  to  make  him  respectable.  I  have 
never  invited  Mr.  Bryant  or  Mr.  Greeley  here.  I  shall  not  therefore  es- 
pecially invite  Mr.  Bennett."  All  Lincoln  would  say  was  that  he  was 
receiving  everybody,  and  he  should  receive  Mr.  Bennett  if  he  came.  Not- 
withstanding his  entire  inaction  he  never  for  a  moment  doubted  his  sec- 
ond nomination.  One  time  in  his  room,  disputing  as  to  who  his  real  friends 
were,  he  told  me  if  I  would  not  show  it  he  would  make  a  list  of  how 
the  Senate  stood  when  he  got  through.  I  pointed  out  some  five  or  six 
that  I  told  him  I  knew  he  was  mistaken  in.  Said  he:  "You  may  think 
so,  but  you  keep  that  until  the  Convention  and  tell  me  then  whether  I  was 
right/'  He  was  right  to  a  man.  He  kept  a  kind  of  account  book  of  how 
things  were  progressing  for  a  few  months,  and  whenever  I  would  get 
nervous  and  think  things  were  going  wrong,  he  would  get  out  his  estimates 
and  show  how  everything  in  the  great  scale  of  action,  the  resolutions  of 
legislatures,  the  instructions  of  delegates,  and  things  of  that  character, 
was  going  exactly  as  he  expected.  These  facts  with  many  others  of  a 
kindred  nature  have  convinced  me  that  he  managed  his  politics  upon  a 
plan  entirely  different  from  any  other  man  the  country  has  ever  produced. 
It  was  by  ignoring  men  and  ignoring  all  small  causes  but  by  closely  calcu- 
lating the  tendencies  of  events  and  the  great  forces  which  were  producing 
logical  results.  In  his  conduct  of  the  war  he  acted  upon  the  tteory  that  but 
one  thing  was  necessary,  and  that  was  a  united  North.  He  had  all  shades 
©f  sentiments  and  opinions  to  deal  with,  and  the  consideration  was  al- 
ways presented  to  his  mind:  How  can  I  hold  these  discordant  elements 
together  ?  Hence  in  dealing  with  men  he  was  a  trimmer  and  such  a  trim- 
mer the  world  has  never  seen.  Halifax,  who  was  great  in  his  day  as  a 


LETTEKS     TO     HEENDON  299 

trimmer,  would  blush  by  the  side  of  Lincoln,  yet  Lincoln  never  trimmed 
in  principles.  It  was  only  in  his  conduct  with  men.  He  used  the  patronage 
of  his  office  to  feed  the  hunger  of  these  various  factions.  Weed  always 
declared  that  he  kept  a  regular  account  book  of  his  appointments  in  New 
York,  dividing  the  various  titbits  of  favor  so  as  to  give  each  faction  more 
than  it  could  get  from  any  other  source,  yet  never  enough  to  satisfy  its 
appetite.  They  all  had  access  to  him,  they  all  received  favors  from  him, 
and  they  all  complained  of  ill-treatment,  but  while  unsatisfied  they  all 
had  'large  expectations"  and  saw  in  him  the  chance  of  getting  more  than 
from  anyone  else  they  were  sure  of  getting  in  his  place.  He  used  every 
force  to  the  best  possible  advantage.  He  never  wasted  anything  and  was 
always  giving  more  to  his  enemies  than  he  would  to  his  friends,  and  the 
reason  was  because  he  never  had  anything  to  spare,  and  in  the  close  calcu- 
lation of  attaching  the  factions  to  him  he  counted  upon  the  abstract  af- 
fection of  his  friends  as  an  element  to  be  offset  against  some  gift  with 
which  he  must  appease  his  enemies.  Hence  there  was  always  some  truth 
in  the  charge  of  his  friends  that  he  failed  to  reciprocate  their  devotion 
with  his  favors.  The  reason  was  that  he  had  only  just  so  much  to  give 
away.  He  always  had  more  horses  than  oats.  An  adhesion  of  all  forces 
was  indispensable  to  his  success  and  the  success  of  the  country.  Hence  he 
husbanded  his  means  with  a  nicety  of  calculation.  Adhesion  was  what 
he  wanted.  If  he  got  it  gratuitously,  he  never  wasted  his  substance  paying 
for  it.  His  love  of  the  ludicrous  was  not  the  least  peculiar  of  his  char- 
acteristics. His  love  of  fun  made  him  overlook  everything  else  but  the 
point  of  the  joke  sought  after.  If  he  told  a  good  story  that  was  refined 
and  had  a  sharp  point,  he  did  not  like  it  any  the  better  because  it  was 
refined.  If  it  was  outrageously  low  and  dirty,  he  never  seemed  to  see  that 
part  of  it.  If  it  had  the  sharp  ring  of  wit,  nothing  ever  reached  him  but 
the  wit.  Almost  any  man  that  would  tell  a  very  vulgar  story  has  got  in  a 
degree  a  vulgar  mind,  but  it  was  not  so  with  him.  With  all  his  purity  of 
character  and  exalted  morality  and  sensibility,  which  no  man  can  doubt, 
when  hunting  for  wit  he  had  no  ability  to  discriminate  between  the  vulgar 
and  the  refined  substances  from  which  he  extracted  it.  It  was  the  wit  he 
was  after,  the  pure  jewel,  and  he  would  pick  it  up  out  of  the  mud  or  dirt 
just  as  readily  as  he  would  from  a  parlor  table.  He  had  very  great  kind- 
ness of  heart.  His  mind  was  full  of  tender  sensibilities.  He  was  extremely 
humane,  yet,  while  these  attributes  were  fully  developed  in  his  char- 
acter and,  unless  intercepted  by  his  judgment,  controlled  him,  they  never 
did  control  him  contrary  to  his  judgment.  He  would  strain  a  point  to  be 
kind,  but  he  never  strained  to  breaking.  Most  men  of  much  kindly  feeling 
are  controlled  by  this  sentiment  against  their  judgment,  or  rather  that 


300  THE     HIDDEN"     LINCOLN 

sentiment  beclouds  their  judgment.  It  was  never  so  with  him.  He  would 
be  just  as  kind  and  generous  as  his  judgment  would  let  him  be — no  more. 
If  he  ever  deviated  from  this  rule,  it  was  to  save  life.  He  would  some- 
times, I  think,  do  things  he  knew  to  be  impolite  and  wrong  to  save  some 
poor  fellow's  neck.  I  remember  one  day  being  in  his  room  when  he  was 
sitting  at  his  table  with  a  large  pile  of  papers  before  him.  After  a  pleas- 
ant talk,  he  turned  quite  abruptly  and  said:  "Get  out  of  the  way,  Swett; 
tomorrow  is  bulletin  day  and  I  must  go  through  these  papers  and  see  if 
I  cannot  find  some  excuse  to  let  this  poor  fellow  off/'  The  pile  of  papers 
he  had  were  the  records  of  courts  martial  of  men  who  on  the  following 
day  were  to  be  shot.  He  was  not  examining  the  records  to  see  whether  the 
evidence  sustained  the  finding.  He  was  purposely  in  search  of  occasions 
to  evade  the  law  in  favor  of  life.  I  was  one  time  begging  for  the  life  of 
a  poor  [fellow].  It  was  an  outrageously  bad  case,  I  confessed  I  was 
simply  begging.  After  sitting  with  his  head  down  while  I  was  talking, 
he  interrupted  me,  saying:  "Grant  never  executed  a  man,  did  he?"  I  have 
been  watching  that  thing.  Some  of  Lincoln's  friends  have  insisted  that 
he  lacked  the  strong  attributes  of  personal  affection  which  he  ought  to 
have  exhibited.  I  think  this  is  a  mistake.  Lincoln  had  too  much  justice  to 
run  a  great  government  for  a  few  favorites,  and  the  complaints  against 
him  in  this  regard  when  properly  digested  amount  to  this  and  no  more: 
that  he  would  not  abuse  the  privileges  of  his  situation.  He  was  certainly 
a  very  poor  hater;  he  never  judged  men  by  his  like  or  dislike  for  them. 
If  any  given  act  was  to  be  performed,  he  could  understand  that  his 
enemy  could  do  it  just  as  well  as  anyone.  If  a  man  had  maligned  him  or 
been  guilty  of  personal  ill-treatment  and  abuse  and  was  the  fittest  man 
for  the  place,  he  would  put  him  in  his  Cabinet  as  he  would  his  friend. 
I  do  not  think  he  ever  removed  a  man  because  he  was  his  enemy  or  be- 
cause he  disliked  him.  The  great  secret  of  his  power  as  an  orator,  in  my 
judgment,  lay  in  the  clearness  and  the  perspicuity  of  his  statements. 
When  Lincoln  had  stated  a  case,  it  was  always  more  than  half  argued 
and  the  point  more  than  half  even.  The  first  impression  he  generally 
conveyed  was  that  he  had  stated  the  case  of  his  adversary  better  and 
more  forcibly  than  his  opponent  could  state  it  himself.  He  then  answered 
that  state  of  facts  fairly  and  fully,  never  passing  by  or  skipping  over  a 
bad  point.  When  this  was  done  he  presented  his  own  case.  There  was  a 
feeling,  where  he  argued  a  case,  in  the  mind  of  every  man  who  listened 
to  him,  that  nothing  had  been  passed  over;  yet  if  he  could  not  answer  the 
objections  he  argued  in  his  own  mind,  and  himself  arrive  at  the  con- 
clusion to  which  he  was  leading  others,,  he  had  very  little  power  of  argu- 
mentation. The  force  of  his  logic  was  in  conveying  to  the  minds  of  others 


LETTERS     TO     HEENBON  301 

the  same  clear  and  thorough  analysis  he  had  in  his  own,  and  if  his  own 
mind  failed  to  be  satisfied,  he  had  no  power  to  satisfy  anybody  else.  His 
mode  and  force  of  argument  was  in  stating  how  he  had  reasoned  upon 
the  subject  and  how  he  had  come  to  his  conclusion  rather  than  original 
reasoning  to  the  hearer;  and  as  the  mind  of  the  listener  followed  in  the 
groove  of  his  mind,  his  conclusions  were  adopted.  He  never  made  a 
sophistical  argument  in  his  life  and  never  could  make  one.  I  think  he 
was  of  less  real  aid  in  trying  a  thoroughly  bad  case  than  any  man  I  was 
ever  associated  with.  If  he  could  not  grasp  the  whole  case  and  master  it, 
he  was  never  inclined  to  touch  it.  From  the  commencement  of  his  life 
to  its  close  I  have  sometimes  doubted  whether  he  ever  asked  anybody's 
advice  about  anything.  He  would  listen  to  everybody,  he  could  hear  every- 
body, but  he  never  asked  for  opinions.  I  never  knew  him  in  trying  a  law- 
suit to  ask  the  advice  of  any  lawyer  he  was  associated  with.  As  a  politician 
and  as  President  he  arrived  at  all  his  conclusions  from  his  own  reflections, 
and  when  his  opinion  was  once  founded,  he  never  had  any  doubt  but 
what  it  was  right.  You  ask  me  whether  he  changed  his  religious  opinions 
toward  the  close  of  his  life.  I  think  not;  as  he  became  involved  in  mat- 
ters of  the  gravest  importance,  full  of  great  responsibility  and  great 
doubt,  the  feeling  of  religious  reverence  and  belief  in  God,  His  justice 
and  surrounding  power,  increased  upon  him.  He  was  full  of  natural  re- 
ligion. He  believed  God  as  the  most  approved  church  member,  by  the 
same  system  of  great  generalizations  as  of  everything  else.  He  had  in  my 
judgment  very  little  faith  in  ceremonials  and  forms;  whether  he  went  to 
church  over  a  month  or  over  a  year  troubled  him  very  little.  He  failed 
to  observe  the  Sabbath  very  scrupulously.  I  think  he  read  Petroleum  V. 
Nasby  as  much  as  he  did  the  Bible.  He  would  ridicule  the  Puritans  and 
swear  in  a  moment  of  vexation,  but  yet  his  heart  was  full  of  natural  and 
cultivated  religion.  He  believed  in  the  great  laws  of  truth,  the  rigid  dis- 
charge of  duty  and  his  accountability  to  God,  the  ultimate  triumph  of 
right  and  the  overthrow  of  wrong.  If  his  religion  were  to  be  judged  by 
the  line  and  rule  of  church  creeds  and  unexceptionable  language,  he  would 
fall  far  short  of  the  standard,  but  if  by  the  higher  rule  of  the  purity  of 
conduct,  of  honesty  of  motive,  of  unyielding  fidelity  to  the  right,  and  ac- 
knowledging God  as  the  Supreme  Ruler,  then  he  filled  all  the  require- 
ments of  true  devotion  and  love  of  his  neighbor  as  himself.  One  great 
public  mistake  by  his  character  as  generally  received  and  acquiesced  in: 
he  is  considered  by  the  people  of  this  country  as  a  frank,  guileless,  un- 
sophisticated man.  There  never  was  a  greater  mistake !  Beneath  a  smooth 
surface  of  candor  and  apparent  declaration  of  all  his  thoughts  and  feel- 
ings, he  exercised  the  most  exalted  tact  and  the  wisest  discrimination.  He 


302  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

handled  and  moved  man  remotely  as  we  do  pieces  upon  a  chessboard.  He 
retained  through  life  all  the  friends  he  ever  had,  and  he  made  the  wrath 
of  his  enemies  to  praise  him.  This  was  not  by  cunning  or  intrigue  in  the 
low  acceptation  of  the  term,  but  by  far-seeing  reason  and  discernment. 
He  always  told  enough  only  of  his  plans  and  purposes  to  induce  the  be- 
lief that  he  communicated  all,  yet  he  reserved  enough  to  have  communi- 
cated nothing.  He  told  all  that  was  unimportant  with  a  gushing  frank- 
ness, yet  no  man  ever  kept  his  real  purposes  or  penetrated  the  future 
further  with  his  deep  designs.  I  wish  I  had  time  to  add  some  things  and 
in  the  whole  to  make  this  shorter  and  better,  but  I  have  not.  I  shall  try 
if  desirable  to  give  you  parts  from  time  to  time,  but  you  will  please  re- 
member they  are  confidential. 

Yours  truly, 
LEONARD  SWETT. 


FROM  MARY  S.  VINEYARD 

Weston,  Mo.,  July  22,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  do  not  think  you  pertinacious  in  asking  the  question,  relative  to  old 
Mrs.  Bowling  Green,  because  I  wish  to  set  you  right  on  that  subject. 
Your  information,  no  doubt,  came  through  my  cousin  Mr  Gaines  Green, 
who  visited  us  last  winter.  Whilst  here  he  was  laughing  at  me  about  Mr. 
Lincoln,  and  among  other  things  spoke  of  the  circumstance,  in  connec- 
tion with  Mrs.  Green  and  child.  My  impression  is  now  that  I  tacitly  ad- 
mitted it  (for  it  was  a  season  of  trouble  with  me),  and  I  gave  but  little 
heed  to  the  whole  matter.  We  never  had  any  hard  feelings  towards  each 
other  that  I  knew  of.  On  one  occasion  did  I  say  to  Mr.  L.  that  I  did  not 
believe  he  would  make  a  kind  husband,  because  he  did  not  tender  his 
services  to  Mrs.  Green  in  helping  her  carry  her  babe.  As  I  said  to  you 
in  a  former  letter,  I  thought  him  lacking  in  smaller  attentions. 

One  circumstance  presents  itself  just  now  to  my  mind's  eye.  There  was  a 
company  of  us  going  to  Uncle  Billy  Green's;  Mr.  L.  was  riding  with 
me,  and  we  had  a  very  bad  branch  to  cross;  the  other  gentlemen  were 
very  officious  in  seeing  that  their  partners  got  over  safely ;  we  were  behind, 
he  riding  on,  never  looking  back  to  see  how  I  got  along ;  when  I  rode  up 
beside  him,  I  remarked:  "You  are  a  nice  fellow;  I  suppose  you  did  not 
care  whether  my  neck  was  broken  or  not/*  He  laughingly  replied  (I 
suppose  by  way  of  compliment)  that  he  knew  I  was  plenty  smart  to 
take  care  of  myself.  In  many  things  he  was  sensitive,  almost  to  a  fault. 


LETTERS     TO     HERNDON  303 

He  told  me  of  an  incident:  that  he  was  crossing  a  prairie  one  day,  and 
saw  before  him  a  hog  mired  down,  to  use  his  own  language ;  he  was  rather 
fixed  up  and  he  resolved  that  he  would  pass  on  without  looking  towards 
the  shoat;  after  he  had  gone  by,  he  said,  the  feeling  was  irresistible  and 
he  had  to  look  back,  and  the  poor  thing  seemed  to  say  so  wistfully:  There, 
now!  my  last  hope  is  gone,  that  he  deliberately  got  down  and  relieved  it 
from  its  difficulty.  • 

In  many  things  we  were  congenial  spirits.  In  politics  we  saw  eye  to 
eye,  though  since  then  we  have  differed  as  widely  as  the  South  is  from 
the  North.  But  methinks  I  hear  you  say :  Save  me  from  a  political  woman! 
So  say  I.  The  last  message  I  ever  received  from  him  was  about  a  year 
after  we  parted  in  Illinois.  Mrs.  Able  visited  Kentucky  and  he  said  to 
her  in  Springfield:  "Tell  your  sister  that  I  think  she  was  a  great  fool  be- 
cause she  did  not  stay  here  and  marry  me." 

Characteristic  of  the  man. 

Respectfully  yours, 
MARY  S.  VINEYARD. 


FROM  J.  HENRY  SHAW 

Beardstown,  III.,  August  22,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

In  the  case  of  the  People  vs.  William  Armstrong,  I  was  assistant  prose- 
cuting counsel.  The  prevailing  belief  at  that  time  (and  I  may  also  say  at 
the  present)  in  Cass  County  was  as  follows.  Mr.  Lincoln^  previous  to 
trial,  handed  an  almanac  of  the  year  previous  to  the  murder,  to  an  officer 
of  court,  stating  that  he  might  call  for  one  during  the  trial,  and  if  he 
did,  to  send  him  that  one.  An  important  witness  for  the  People  had  fixed 
the  time  of  the  murder  to  be  in  the  night  near  a  camp  meeting,  that  "the 
moon  was  about  in  the  same  place  that  the  sun  would  be  at  ten  o'clock 
in  the  morning  and  was  nearly  full" ;  therefore  he  could  see  plainly,  etc. 
At  the  proper  time  Mr.  Lincoln  called  to  the  officer  for  an  almanac,  and 
the  one  prepared  for  the  occasion  was  shown  by  Mr.  Lincoln,  he  reading 
from  it  that,  at  the  time  referred  to  by  the  witness,  the  moon  had  already 
set.  That,  in  the  roar  of  laughter  following,  the  jury  and  opposing  counsel 
neglected  to  look  at  the  date.  Mr.  Carter,  a  lawyer  of  this  city  who  was 
present  at,  but  not  engaged  in,  the  Armstrong  case,  says  he  is  satisfied 
that  the  almanac  was  of  the  year  previous,  and  thinks  he  examined  it  at 
the  time.  This  was  the  general  impression  in  the  courtroom.  I  have  called 
on  the  sheriff  who  officiated  at  that  time,  James  A.  Dick,  who  says  that 


304  THE     HIDDEN     iLINCOI/N 

he  saw  a  Goudy's  Almanac  laying  upon  Mr.  Lincoln's  table  during  the 
trial,  and  that  Mr.  Lincoln  took  it  out  of  his  own  pocket.  Mr.  Dick  does 
not  know  the  date  of  it.  I  have  seen  several  of  the  petit  jurymen  who  sat 
upon  the  case  who  only  recollect  that  the  almanac  floored  the  witness. 
But  one  of  the  jury,  the  foreman,,  Mr.  Milton  Logan,  says  that  the  al- 
manac was  a  Jayne's  Almanac,  that  it  was  the  one  for  the  year  in  which 
the  murder  was  committed,  and  that  there  was  no  •  trick  about  it,  that 
he  is  willing  to  make-  an  affidavit  that  he  examined  it  as  to  its  date  and 
that  it  was  the  almanac  of  the  year  of  the  murder.  My  own  opinion  is 
that,  when  an  almanac  was  called  for  by  Mr,  Lincoln,  two  were  brought, 
one  of  the  year  of  the  murder  and  the  other  of  the  year  previous;  that 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  entirely  innocent  of  any  deception  in  the  matter.  I  the 
more  think  this  from  the  fact  that  Armstrong  was  not  cleared  by  any 
want  of  testimony  against  him,  but  by  the  irresistible  appeal  of  Mr.  Lin- 
coln in  his  favor.  He  told  the  jury  of  his  once  being  a  poor,  friendless 
boy,  that  Armstrong's  father  took  him  into  his  house,  fed  and  clothed 
him  and  gave  him  a  home,  etc.,  the  particulars  of  which  were  told  so 
pathetically  that  the  jury  forgot  the  guilt  of  the  boy  in  their  admiration 
of  the  father. 

It  was  generally  admitted  that  Lincoln's  speech  and  personal  appeal 
to  the  jury  saved  Armstrong.  Mr.  James  Taylor  (now  a  resident  of 
Springfield)  was  clerk  of  the  circuit  court  of  Cass  County  at  that  time. 
By  calling  upon  him,  you  can  probably  get  his  description  of  the  affair. 

The  murder  occurred,  I  think,  in  1857.  He  was  indicted  in  Mason 
County,  and  a  change  of  venue  to  this  county.  At  the  November  term, 
1857,  of  Cass  Circuit  Court,  Mr.  Lincoln  labored  hard  to  get  Armstrong 
admitted  to  bail,  but  his  motion  was  overruled.  The  trial  and  acquittal 
occurred  at  the  May  term,  1858. 

Yours  respectfully, 
J.  HENRY  SHAW. 


FROM  J.  HENRY  SHAW 

Beardstotun,  III.,  September  5,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Six  of  the  seven  interrogatories  propounded  by  you  in  yours  of  the  1st 
inst.  have  relation  to  a  motion  for  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus  in  the  Arm- 
strong case.  In  reply,  I  would  say  that  I  have  no  recollection  of  there  hav- 


LETTERS     TO     HEENDON  305 

ing  been  an  effort  made  for  a  habeas  corpus  in  that  case.  I  went  to  the 
record  and  also  searched  all  the  papers  in  the  case,  but  nothing  can  be 
found  intimating  that  such  a  motion  was  made.  It  is  not  usual,  or  at 
least  necessary,  that  the  papers  connected  with  such  a  motion  be  filed 
with  the  indictment,  and  possibly  by  writing  to  Judge  Harriott  at  Pekin 
you  might  find  the  facts  in  the  case.  My  impression  is  that  no  such  mo- 
tion was  made.  My  recollections  of  that  trial  are  rather  good,  from  the 
fact  that  I  was  with  Mr.  Lincoln  a  great  deal  of  the  time  during  both 
of  the  terms  in  which  the  Armstrong  case  was  pending.  My  connection 
with  him  during  those  terms  was  as  follows: 

Not  knowing  that  he  was  intending  to  attend  our  November  term,  1857, 
I  wrote  to  him  that  I  wished  his  assistance  for  defendant  in  the  case 
of  Ruth  A.  Gill  ttt,  Jonathan  Gill  at  that  term,  which  was  a  suit  for 
custody  of  child  and  alimony.  He  came  down,  I  then  supposed,  exclu- 
sively to  attend  to  that  case.  The  question  of  divorce  was  left  for  a  jury, 
who  brought  in  a  verdict  for  complainant,  who  also  got  the  custody  of  the 
child,  but  the  question  of  alimony,  the  most  important  point  in  that  case, 
was  left  open  until  the  next  term  of  court.  At  this  term,  November  1857, 
Mr.  Lincoln  argued  the  motion  in  the  Armstrong  case  to  admit  to  bail, 
which  was  overruled.  At  the  May  term  I  expected  Mr.  Lincoln  down  to 
assist  in  the  alimony  case  again,  and  he  came  in  due  time,  called  at  my 
office,  and  said  I  had  been  suing  some  of  his  clients,  and  he  had  come 
down  to  attend  to  it.  He  then  had  reference  to  a  new  chancery  case 
entitled  "George  Moore  vs.  Christina  Moore  and  the  heirs  of  Peter 
Moore"  for  a  specific  performance,  the  defendants  all  living  near  Spring- 
field. I  explained  the  case  to  him,  and  showed  him  my  proofs.  He  seemed 
surprised  that  I  should  deal  so  frankly  with  him  and  said  he  should  be 
as  frank  with  me,  that  my  client  was  justly  entitled  to  a  decree,  and  he 
should  so  represent  it  to  the  court,  that  it  was  against  his  principles  to 
contest  a  clear  matter  of  right.  So  my  client  got  a  deed  for  a  farm,  which, 
had  another  lawyer  been  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  place,  would  have  been  liti- 
gated for  years,  with  a  big  pile  of  costs,  and  the  result  probably  the  same. 
Mr.  Lincoln's  character  for  professional  honor  stood  very  high.  He 
never  vexed  an  opponent,  but  frequently  threw  him  off  his  guard  by  his 
irresistible  good  humor.  But  I  digress — I  still  thought  that  Mr.  Lincoln 
had  come  to  our  court  more  particularly  to  attend  to  the  Gill  and  Moore 
cases,  and  was  very  much  surprised  afterwards  to  see  the  immense  interest 
he  took  in  the  Armstrong  case.  He  went  into  it  like  a  Giant.  The  evidence 
bore  heavily  upon  his  client.  There  were  many  witnesses,  and  each  one 
seemed  to  add  one  more  cord  that  seemed  to  bind  him  down,  till  Mr.  Lin- 


306  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

coin  was  something  in  the  situation  of  Gulliver  after  his  first  sleep  in 
Lilliput.  But  when  he  came  to  talk  to  the  jury  (that  was  always  his  forte) 
he  resembled  Gulliver  again;  he  skillfully  untied  here  and  there  a  knot 
and  loosened  here  and  there  a  peg,  until,  getting  fairly  warmed  up,  he 
raised  himself  in  his  full  power  and  shook  the  arguments  of  his  opponents 
from  him  as  though  they  were  cobwebs.  He  took  the  jury  by  storm.  There 
were  tears  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  eyes  while  he  spoke.  But  they  were  genuine. 
His  sympathies  were  fully  enlisted  in  favor  of  the  young  man,  and  his 
terrible  sincerity  could  not  help  but  arouse  the  same  passion  in  the  jury. 
I  have  said  it  a  hundred  times,  that  it  was  Lincoln's  speech  that  saved 
that  criminal  from  the  gallows,  and  neither  money  or  fame  inspired  that 
speech,  but  it  was  incited  by  gratitude  to  the  young  man's  father,  who, 
as  Mr.  Lincoln  said,  "was  his  only  friend  when  he  was  a  poor  homeless 
boy."  These  are  the  only  facts  which  I  now  recollect  occurring  at  our 
court  worthy  of  your  notice  concerning  that  case.  I  might  say,  however, 
as  part  of  the  previous  history  of  the  case,  that  the  indictment  was  found 
at  the  October  term,  1857,  of  the  Mason  Circuit  Court,  against  James 
H.  Norris  and  William  Armstrong.  The  indictment  charges  that  on  the 
29th  day  of  August  1857  they  murdered  James  Preston  Metzker — Norris 
striking  him  on  the  back  of  the  head  with  a  club  and  Armstrong  striking 
him  in  the  right  eye  with  a  slingshot.  Norris  was  tried  at  the  October 
term,  1857,  Mason  Circuit  Court,  found  guilty  of  manslaughter,  and  sent 
up  for  eight  years.  Dilworth  and  Campbell  were  council  for  Norris. 

At  the  October  term,  1857,  Mason  County,  William  Walker  appeared 
as  counsel  for  Armstrong,  and  made  two  motions,  one  to  quash  the  indict- 
ment, which  was  overruled;  the  other  to  discharge  the  prisoner,  which 
was  withdrawn. 

At  the  close  of  the  trial  of  Armstrong  in  the  Cass  Circuit  Court  Mr. 
Lincoln  had  possession  of  the  slingshot  with  which  it  was  shown  Arm- 
strong killed  Metzker.  He,  Mr.  L.,  handed  it  to  me,  saying:  "Here,  Henry, 
I'll  give  you  this  to  remember  me  by." 

I  have  that  same  slingshot  now.  It  was  made  by  Armstrong  for  the 
occasion.  He  took  a  common  bar  of  pig  lead,  pounded  it  round,  about 
the  size  of  a  large  hickory  nut,  then  cut  a  piece  of  leather  out  of  the  top 
of  one  of  his  boots,  and  with  a  thread  and  needle  he  sewed  it  into  the 
shape  of  a  slingshot,  and  thus  improvised  in  a  few  minutes  a  very  fatal 
weapon.  If  I  can  be  of  any  other  assistance  to  you  in  your  worthy  under- 
taking, shall  be  at  your  service. 

Yours  respectfully, 
J.  HENRY  SHAW. 


LETTERS    TO     HEBNDON  307 

FROM  JOHN  HAY 

Legation  of  the  United  States,  Paris,  September  5, 1866. 
My  dear  Mr.  Herndon: 

I  am  so  constantly  busy  that  I  have  had  no  quiet  day  in  which  to  write 
yon  what  you  desired  in  your  letter  several  months  ago.  I  have  been 
charge  d'affaires  nearly  all  summer,  my  day  filled  with  official  business 
and  my  night  with  social  engagements  equally  imperative.  Even  now,  I 
write  because  I  am  ashamed  to  wait  any  longer  and  have  a  few  minutes 
disposable.  I  will  answer  your  questions  as  you  put  them  without  any 
attempt  at  arrangement. 

Lincoln  used  to  go  to  bed  ordinarily  from  ten  to  eleven  o'clock  unless 
he  happened  to  be  kept  up  by  important  news,  in  which  case  he  would  fre- 
quently remain  at  the  War  Department  until  one  or  two.  He  rose  early, 
When  he  lived  in  the  country  at  Soldiers'  Home,  he  would  be  up  and 
dressed,  eat  his  breakfast  (which  was  extremely  frugal — an  egg,  a  piece 
of  toast,  coffee,  etc.),  and  ride  into  Washington,  all  before  eight  o'clock 
In  the  winter  at  the  White  House  he  was  not  quite  so  early.  He  did  not 
sleep  very  well  but  spent  a  good  while  in  bed.  Tad  usually  slept  with 
him.  He  would  lie  around  the  office  until  he  fell  asleep  and  Lincoln  would 
shoulder  him  and  take  him  off  to  bed. 

He  pretended  to  begin  business  at  ten  o'clock  in  the  morning,  but  in 
reality  the  anterooms  and  halls  were  full  before  that  hour — people 
anxious  to  get  the  first  ax  ground.  He  was  extremely  unmethodical:  it 
was  a  four  years*  struggle  on  Nicolay's  part  and  mine  to  get  him  to  adopt 
some  systematic  rules.  He  would  break  through  every  regulation  as  fast 
as  it  was  made. 

Anything  that  kept  the  people  themselves  away  from  him  he  disap- 
proved— although  they  nearly  annoyed  the  life  out  of  him  by  "unreason- 
able complaints  and  requests. 

He  wrote  very  few  letters.  He  did  not  read  one  in  fifty  that  he  re- 
ceived. At  first  we  tried  to  bring  them  to  his  notice,  but  at  last  he  gave 
the  whole  thing  over  to  me,  and  signed  without  reading  them  the  letters 
I  wrote  in  his  name.  He  wrote  perhaps  half  a  dozen  &  week  himself,  not 
more. 

Nicolay  received  members  of  Congress,  and  other  visitors  who  had  busi- 
ness with  the  Executive  Office,  communicated  to  the  Senate  and  House 
the  messages  of  the  President,  and  exercised  a  general  supervision  over 
the  business- 


308  THE   HIDDEN; 

I  opened  and  read  the  letters,  answered  them,  looked  over  the  news- 
papers, supervised  the  clerks  who  kept  the  records,  and  in  Nicolay's  ab- 
sence did  his  work  also. 

When  the  President  had  any  rather  delicate  matter  to  manage  at  a 
distance  from  Washington,  he  very  rarely  wrote,  but  sent  Nicolay  or  me. 

The  House  remained  full  of  people  nearly  all  day.  At  noon  the  Presi- 
dent took  a  little  lunch — a  biscuit,  a  glass  of  milk  in  winter,  some  fruit 
or  grapes  in  summer.  He  dined  at  from  five  to  six  and  we  went  off  to  our 
dinner  also. 

Before  dinner  was  over,  members  and  Senators  would  come  back  and 
take  up  the  whole  evening.  Sometimes,  though  rarely,  he  shut  himself  up 
and  would  see  no  one.  Sometimes  he  would  run  away  to  a  lecture  or  con- 
cert or  theater  for  the  sake  of  a  little  rest. 

He  was  very  abstemious,  ate  less  than  anyone  I  know.  Drank  nothing 
but  water,  not  from  principle,  but  because  he  did  not  like  wine  or  spirits. 
Once  in  rather  dark  days  early  in  the  war,  a  Temperance  Committee 
came  to  him  and  said  the  reason  we  did  not  win  was  because  our  army 
drank  so  much  whisky  as  to  bring  down  the  curse  of  the  Lord  upon 
them.  He  said  dryly  that  it  was  rather  unfair  on  the  part  of  the  afore- 
said curse,  as  the  other  side  drank  more  and  worse  whisky  than  ours  did. 

He  read  very  little.  Scarcely  ever  looked  into  a  newspaper  unless  I 
called  his  attention  to  an  article  on  some  special  subject.  He  frequently 
said:  "I  know  more  about  that  than  any  of  them/'  It  is  absurd  to  call 
him  a  modest  man.  No  great  man  was  ever  modest.  It  was  his  intellectual 
arrogance  and  unconscious  assumption  of  superiority  that  men  like  Chase 
and  Sumner  never  could  forgive. 

I  can't  write  any  more  today.  I  may  see  you  before  long — I  don't  know 
— and  so  I  won't  waste  time  by  telling  you  what  you  must  know  as  well 
as  I  do. 

I  believe  Lincoln  is  well  understood  by  the  people.  Miss  Nancy  Ban- 
croft and  the  rest  of  that  patent-leather  kid-glove  set  know  no  more  of 
him  than  an  owl  does  of  a  comet  blazing  into  his  blinking  eyes. 

Bancroft's  address  was  a  disgraceful  exhibition  of  ignorance  and  prej- 
udice. His  effeminate  nature  shrinks  instinctively  from  the  contact  of  a 
great  reality  like  Lincoln's  character. 

I  consider  Lincoln  Republicanism  incarnate,  with  all  its  faults  and  all 
its  virtues.  As,  in  spite  of  some  evidences,  Republicanism  is  the  sole  hope 
of  a  sick  world,  so  Lincoln,  with  all  his  foibles,  is  the  greatest  character 
since  Christ. 

Yours, 
JOHN  HAY. 


LETTERS     TO     HERNBON  309 

FROM  J.  GILLESPIE 

Clerk's  Office  of  the  Circuit  Court  of  Madison  County,  III, 

Edwardsville,  September  19,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Yours  of  the  10th  is  received  in  reply  to  which  I  have  to  say  that  I 
only  remember  the  general  run  of  the  events  connected  with  the  Sena- 
torial election  in  1854  in  which  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Mr.  Trumbull  were 
candidates  and  in  which  Trumbull  succeeded.  We  held  a  caucus  in  which 
all  but  five  of  the  opponents  of  the  pro-slavery  Democracy  were  present 
and  at  which  Lincoln  was  selected  as  our  candidate  when  the  Houses  met 
in  joint  convention.  Those  five,  to  wit:  Judd  of  Cook,  Cook  of  LaSalle, 
Palmer  of  Macoupin,  and  Allen  and  Baker  of  Madison,  voted  for  Trum- 
bull while  the  rest  of  us  voted  for  Mr.  Lincoln.  The  reason  they  gave, 
according  to  my  recollection,  for  voting  for  Trumbull  was  that,  having 
been  elected  as  Democrats,  they  could  not  vote  for  anyone  but  a  Demo- 
crat for  United  States  Senator.  I  tried  hard  to  persuade  them  to  go  with 
us.  They  stated  that  they  had  no  objection  to  Mr.  Lincoln  except  his 
political  antecedents,  but  that  they  could  not  sustain  themselves  at  home 
if  they  were  to  vote  for  him,  but  expressed  regret  that  they  were  so  cir- 
cumstanced. After  a  number  of  ballots  I  asked  Mr.  Lincoln  what  he  would 
advise  us  to  do,  when  he  said  promptly:  "I  would  go  for  Trumbull  by  all 
means."  We  understood  the  case  to  be  that  Shields  was  to  be  run  by  the 
Democrats  at  first  and  was  then  to  be  dropped  and  Joel  A.  Matteson  put 
up,  and  it  was  calculated  that  certain  of  our  men  who  had  been  elected 
on  the  free-soil  issue  would  vote  for  him  after  they  had  acted  with  us 
long  enough  to  satisfy  their  consciences  and  constituents.  Our  object  was 
to  make  an  election  before  they  got  through  with  their  program.  We  were 
savagely  opposed  to  Matteson  and  so  was  Mr.  Lincoln,  and  he  said  that 
if  we  did  not  drop  in  and  unite  upon  Trumbull,  those  men  would  go  for 
Matteson  and  elect  him,  which  would  be  an  everlasting  disgrace  to  the 
State.  We  reluctantly  complied  with  Lincoln's  suggestions  and  went  up 
on  Trumbull  and  elected  him.  Mr.  Lincoln  did  not  appear  to  have  any 
hard  feelings  towards  Trumbull,  although  he  was  of  course  disappointed 
and  mortified  at  his  own  want  of  success.  This  is  the  impression  left  on 
my  memory  of  the  event.  I  do  not  remember  how  many  ballots  we  had,  but 
I  should  think  we  had  five  or  six.  I  do  not  think  there  was  much  ill  feel- 
ing felt  or  manifested  amongst  Lincoln's  friends,  although  we  looked 
upon  it  as  a  great  misfortune  to  him  personally  that  he  could  not  succeed 
on  that  occasion,  but  at  home  there  was  considerable  bitterness  displayed 
by  some  of  the  old  Whigs  who  regarded  it  as  an  affront  put  npon  men 


310  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

who  had  belonged  to  that  party.  Trumbull  was  present  when  the  election 
came  off,  but  I  do  not  believe  that  he  was  charged  with  being  instrumental 
in  bringing  about  the  result,  nor  do  I  suppose  that  he  took  any  pains  to 
prevent  it  or  any  active  part  in  the  matter,  one  way  or  another.  I  know 
that  we,  the  opponents  of  the  pro-slavery  party,  harmonized  during  the 
rest  of  the  session.  I  remember  that  Judge  S.  T.  Logan  gave  up  Mr.  Lin- 
coln with  great  reluctance.  He  begged  hard  to  try  him  one  or  two  ballots 
more,  but  Mr.  Lincoln  urged  us  not  to  risk  it  longer.  I  never  saw  Mr. 
Lincoln  more  earnest  and  decided.  He  said  he  was  satisfied  that  he 
could  not  get  the  support  of  those  five  men,  and  it  would  be  unwise  to 
contend  any  more  and  incur  the  risk  of  electing  Matteson.  I  know  that 
the  friends  of  Matteson  were  grievously  disappointed  at  the  result.  They 
felt  sure  that  he  would  be  elected  in  due  season  and  appeared  to  be  taken 
by  surprise  when  we  united  on  and  elected  Trumbull.  These  are  my  impres- 
sions, but  owing  to  the  length  of  time  which  has  elapsed  and  the  vague- 
ness of  my  recollection,  I  would  not  be  answerable  for  anything  more  than 
their  correctness  in  general  and  not  in  detail.  You  are  at  liberty  to  make 
such  use  of  them  as  you  may  deem  proper  if  their  publication  can  con- 
duce in  any  way  to  vindicate  the  truth  of  history.  If  not  necessary,  I 
should  of  course  prefer  not  to  have  them  made  public. 

Your  friend, 
J.  GILLESPIE. 


FROM  R.  B.  RUTLEDGE 

[October  1866.] 
Dear  Sir: 

Believing  that  any  authentic  statements  connected  with  the  early  life  and 
history  of  the  beloved  Abraham  Lincoln  should  belong  to  the  great  Amer- 
ican people,  I  submit  the  following  replies  to  the  interrogatories  contained 
in  your  recent  letter.  I  trust  largely  to  your  courtesy  as  a  gentleman,  to 
your  honesty  and  integrity  as  a  historian,  and  to  your  skill  in  writing  for 
the  public,  to  enlarge  wherever  my  statements  seem  obscure,  and  to  con- 
dense and  remove  whatever  seems  superfluous.  Above  all,  I  trust  to  your 
honor  and  your  sense  of  right  and  consistency,  to  exclude  from  print  any- 
thing which  in  your  judgment  may  injuriously  affect  the  surviving  actors 
in  the  great  drama  which  you  propose  to  re-enact  once  more. 

Many  of  my  statements  are  made  from  memory  with  the  aid  of  associa- 
tion of  events ;  and  should  you  discover  that  the  date,  location,  and  circum- 
stances of  the  events  here  named  should  be  contradictory  to  those  named 


LETT ESS    TO     HEfcNDON  311 

from  other  sources,  I  beg  of  you  to  consider  well  the  testimony  in  each  case, 
and  make  up  your  history  from  those  statements  which  may  appear  to  you 
best  fitted  to  remove  all  doubt  as  to  their  correctness. 

You  ask,  first :  When  did  you  first  become  acquainted  with  Lincoln,  where 
was  it,  and  what  was  he  doing?  I  answer:  In  the  year  1830  or  1881  in  the 
town  of  New  Salem,  Illinois.  He  was  at  that  time  a  clerk  in  the  store  of 
Denton  Offutt,  having  just  returned  with  Offutt  from  New  Orleans,  with 
whom  he  had  gone  on  a  flatboat  as  a  hand  to  that  city.  At  that  time  he 
boarded  with  John  Cameron,  a  partner  of  my  father  in  laying  out  the  town 
of  New  Salem,  and  in  building  a  mill  on  the  Sangamon  River.  At  that  period 
New  Salem  was  a  small  village  of  not  more  than  ten  or  fifteen  families,  who 
lived  in  log  cabins,  and  who  were  as  sociable  and  familiar  as  persons  are 
who  find  themselves  thus  isolated  from  the  great  world  outside.  The  mill 
was  a  saw  and  grist  mill,  was  the  first  one  built  on  the  Sangamon  River,  and 
supplied  a  large  section  of  country  with  its  meal,  flour,  and  lumber.  At 
times  when  it  was  necessary  to  construct  a  dam  to  afford  the  proper  water 
power,  word  would  be  sent  through  the  neighborhood,  and  the  people  would 
come  ten  and  fifteen  miles  en  masse,  and  assist  gratuitously  in  the  work. 

On  such  occasions  Mr.  Lincoln  was  ever  ready  to  work  with  his  stalwart 
hand,  and  to  assist  in  constructing  or  repairing  the  dams  or  mill,  raising 
houses  in  the  village,  etc.,  and  this  too  when  he  had  no  personal  interest  in 
the  success  of  the  enterprise. 

This  is  mentioned  here  as  an  illustration  of  the  generosity  and  nobleness 
of  the  settlers  at  that  early  day.  It  also  shows  an  element  of  the  character 
of  the  people  among  whom  Mr*  Lincoln  received  his  first  impressions  and 
may  assist  in  proving  that  he  was  then,  and  why  he  always  appeared  after- 
wards, one  of  the  people,  and  an  ardent  sympathizer  with  the  masses. 

It  has  been  stated  that  Mr.  Offutt  owned  or  had  an  interest  in  the  mill 
and  that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  employed  to  assist  in  taking  care  of  the  new 
enterprise.  This  is  a  mistake.  James  Rutledge  and  John  Cameron,  partners, 
first  commenced  erecting  a  mill  on  Concord  Creek,  about  six  miles  below 
New  Salem,  where  they  owned  the  land,  but  large  inducements  being 
offered  and  the  proprietors  fearing  a  scarcity  of  water,  removed  to  New 
Salem  in  1828  and  built  the  mill  and  laid  out  the  town.  Neither  Mr.  Lincoln 
or  Mr.  Offutt  had  any  pecuniary  interest  in  it.  It  belonged  solely  to  Rut- 
ledge  and  Cameron,  and  Mr.  Lincoln  only  assisted  in  repairing  it  as  other 
neighbors  did,  gratuitously.  He  was  at  this  time  the  clerk  of  Mr.  Offutt, 
who  kept  a  general  country  store,  including  dry  goods,  groceries,  and  all 
the  varieties  which  belong  to  such  an  establishment. 

You  ask,  second:  Did  he  board  with  you — your  father  and  family — how 
long — when — and  all  about  it?  On  Mr.  Lincoln's  arrival  at  New  Salem,  he 


312  THE     HIDDEN     iLINCOLK 

boarded  with  John  Cameron  along  with  Offutt.  He  afterwards  boarded 
with  my  father,  during  the  years  1833  and  1834,  as  appears  from  papers 
still  in  the  possession  of  the  family.  I  am  satisfied  he  boarded  with  us  both 
prior  and  subsequent  to  the  years  named,  but  so  long  a  time  has  intervened 
that  I  cannot  fix  the  date  with  precise  certainty. 

You  ask,  third:  In  regard  to  my  father  and  the  family.  My  father  was 
born  in  South  Carolina,  removed  to  Kentucky,  and  from  thence  to  White 
County,  Illinois,  in  1816.  The  first  three  children,  Jane,  John,  and  Ann, 
were  born  in  Kentucky;  the  later  six  were  born  in  Illinois — David,  Robert, 
Nancy,  and  Margaret  born  in  White  County,  and  William  and  Sarah  in 
Sangamon  County.  My  father  removed  to  Sangamon  County  in  1825  and 
died  in  Menard  County,  which  was  formerly  a  part  of  Sangamon  County, 
Decembers,  1835. 

Fourth :  You  make  some  pertinent  inquiries  concerning  my  sister  and  the 
relations  which  existed  between  herself  and  Mr,  Lincoln.  My  sister  Ann 
was  born  January  7, 1813,  and  died  August  25,  1835.  She  was  born  in  Ken- 
tucky and  died  in  Menard  County,  Illinois.  In  1830,  my  sister  being  then 
but  seventeen  years  of  age,  a  stranger  calling  himself  John  McNeil  came 
to  New  Salem.  He  boarded  with  Mr.  Cameron  and  was  keeping  a  store  with 
a  Samuel  Hill.  A  friendship  grew  up  between  McNeil  and  Ann  which 
ripened  apace  and  resulted  in  an  engagement  to  marry.  McNeil's  real  name 
was  McNamar.  It  seems  that  his  father  had  failed  in  business,  and  his  son, 
a  very  young  man,  had  determined  to  make  a  fortune,  pay  off  his  father's 
debts,  and  restore  him  to  his  former  social  and  financial  standing.  With 
this  view  he  left  his  home  clandestinely,  and  in  order  to  avoid  pursuit  by 
his  parents  changed  his  name.  His  conduct  was  strictly  high-toned,  honest, 
and  moral,  and  his  ob j  ect,  whatever  any  may  think  of  the  deception  which 
he  practiced  in  changing  his  name,  entirely  praiseworthy. 

He  prospered  in  business  and,  pending  his  engagement  with  Ann,  he 
revealed  his  true  name,  returned  to  Ohio  to  relieve  his  parents  from  their 
embarrassments,  and  to  bring  the  family  with  him  to  Illinois.  On  his  return 
to  Ohio,  several  years  Having  elapsed,  he  found  his  father  in  declining 
health  or  dead,  and  perhaps  the  circumstances  of  the  family  prevented  his 
immediate  return  to  New  Salem.  At  all  events  he  was  absent  two  or  three 
years. 

In  the  meantime  Mr.  Lincoln  paid  his  addresses  to  Arm,  continued 
his  visits  and  attentions  regularly,  and  those  resulted  in  an  engagement 
to  marry,  conditional  to  an  honorable  release  from  the  contract  with 
McNamar.  There  is  no  kind  of  doubt  as  to  the  existence  of  this  engagement. 
David  Rutledge  urged  Ann  to  consummate  it,  but  she  refused  until  such 
time  as  she  could  see  McNamar,  inform  him  of  the  change  in  her  feelings, 


LETTEBS    TO     HEBNDON  313 

and  seek  an  honorable  release.  Mr.  Lincoln  lived  in  the  village,  McNamar 
did  not  return,  and  in  August  1835  Ann  sickened  and  died.  The  effect  upon 
Mr.  Lincoln's  mind  was  terrible ;  he  became  plunged  in  despair,  and  many 
of  his  friends  feared  that  reason  would  desert  her  throne.  His  extraordi- 
nary emotions  were  regarded  as  strong  evidence  of  the  existence  of  the  ten- 
derest  relations  between  himself  and  the  deceased.  McNamar,  however, 
returned  to  Illinois  in  the  fall  after  Ann's  death. 

Fifth:  Ann  was,  as  before  stated,  seventeen  years  old  in  1830.  My  age  at 
the  same  time  was  twelve.  She  went  to  school  to  Mentor  Graham,  who  was  a 
successful  and  popular  teacher  in  1832  and  1833.  My  sister  was  esteemed 
the  brightest  mind  of  the  family,  was  studious,  devoted  to  her  duties  of 
whatever  character,  and  possessed  a  remarkably  amiable  and  lovable  dis- 
position. She  had  light  hair  and  blue  eyes. 

Sixth  question:  I  have  already  written  you  in  relation  to  my  acquaintance 
with  Samuel  Hill,  Offutt,  Green,  and  others.  Perhaps  too  much  credit  is 
awarded  William  Green  for  Mr.  Lincoln's  knowledge  of  grammar.  Mr. 
Lincoln  clerked  for  Offutt  in  1831  and  1832.  James  Rutledge  owned  an 
interest  in  a  grocery  in  New  Salem,  a  remnant  of  a  stock  belonging  to  Rut- 
ledge  and  Sinco.  Sinco  bought  a  lot  of  horses,  took  them  south,  and  broke 
up.  Rutledge  sold  out  to  Lincoln  and  William  Berry.  Mr.  Lincoln  only  had 
possession  a  very  short  time  and  never  gave  it  his  personal  attention.  He 
soon  sold  out  to  Berry,  who  gave  his  note  to  Lincoln  for  the  amount,  who 
paid  Rutledge  with  Berry's  note.  Soon  after,  Berry  failed,  and  after  a 
while  Lincoln  came  to  Rutledge  and  made  him  a  tender  to  pay  half  the  note. 
This  Rutledge  utterly  refused  to  accept  from  Mr.  L.,  alleging  that  he  had 
taken  Berry's  note  for  the  debt  and,  if  he  could  not  make  it  out  of  him,  he 
would  not  accept  it  at  all.  About  this  tune  Mr.  Lincoln  was  employed  in 
surveying,  he  having  learned  the  science,  and  being  engaged  in  a  good  busi- 
ness in  the  profession. 

Seventh:  My  father  moved  to  and  laid  out  the  town  of  New  Salem  in  the 
summer  of  1829.  I  moved  in  1836  with  my  mother  and  elder  brother  from 
Menard  County  to  Fulton  County,  Illinois,  and  from  thence  in  the  fall  of 
1837  to  Van  Buren  County,  Iowa.  My  father  was  born  in  South  Carolina, 
May  11,  1781,  and  died  in  Menard  County,  Illinois,  December  3,  1835, 
being  about  fifty-four  years  of  age. 

Eighth  :  I  cannot  give  you  a  satisfactory  reply  to  many  items  embraced 
in  this  inquiry,  for  the  lack  of  dates  or  circumstances  corroborating  them. 
Many  things  said  of  him  and  done  by  him  are  indelibly  fixed  in  my  mind, 
but  the  absence  of  the  proper  surroundings  impels  me  to  withhold  them. 
Mr.  Lincoln  studied  Kirkham's  Grammar ;  the  valuable  copy  which  he  de- 
lighted to  peruse  is  now  in  my  possession.  He  also  studied  natural  philos- 


THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

ophy,  astronomy,  chemistry,  etc.  He  had  no  regular  teacher,  but  perhaps 
received  more  assistance  from  Mentor  Graham  than  any  other  person.  He 
could  be  seen  usually  when  in  pursuit  of  his  ordinary  avocations  with  his 
book  under  his  arm;  at  a  moment  of  leisure  he  would  open  it,  study,  close 
it,  and  recite  to  himself.  When  in  young  company  he  has  been  known  to 
excite  the  most  uproarious  laughter  by  singing  the  tune  called  "Legacy"  in 
the  "Missouri  Harmony,"  substituting  the  words  "Old  Gray"  for  "Red 
Grape."  The  effect  is  very  ludicrous  as  anyone  can  see  by  reference  to  the 
lines  quoted.  His  enjoyment  of  a  joke  was  very  intense;  and  all  that  has 
been  said  in  truth  of  his  disposition  is  no  exaggeration. 

About  the  year  1832  or  1833  Mr.  Lincoln  made  his  first  effort  at  public 
speaking.  A  debating  club,  of  which  James  Rutledge  was  president,  was 
organized  and  held  regular  meetings.  As  he  arose  to  speak,  his  tall  form 
towered  above  the  little  assembly.  Both  hands  were  thrust  down  deep  in 
the  pockets  of  his  pantaloons.  A  perceptible  smile  at  once  lit  up  the  faces  of 
the  audience,  for  all  anticipated  the  relation  of  some  humorous  story.  But 
he  opened  up  the  discussion  in  splendid  style  to  the  infinite  astonishment 
of  his  friends.  As  he  warmed  with  his  subject,  his  hands  would  forsake  his 
pockets  and  would  enforce  his  ideas  by  awkward  gestures ;  but  would  very 
soon  seek  their  easy  resting  place.  He  pursued  the  question  with  reason  and 
argument  so  pithy  and  forcible  that  all  were  amazed.  The  president,  at  his 
fireside  after  the  meeting,  remarked  to  his  wife  that  there  was  more  in  Abe's 
head  than  wit  and  fun,  that  he  was  already  a  fine  speaker,  that  all  he  lacked 
was  culture  to  enable  him  to  reach  the  high  destiny  which  he  knew  was  in 
store  for  him.  From  that  time  Mr.  Rutledge  took  a  deeper  interest  in  him. 

Soon  after  Mr.  Rutledge  urged  him  to  announce  himself  as  a  candidate 
for  the  Legislature.  This  he  at  first  declined  to  do,  averring  that  it  was  im- 
possible to  be  elected.  It  was  suggested  that  a  canvass  of  the  county  would 
bring  him  prominently  before  the  people  and  in  time  would  do  him  good. 
He  reluctantly  yielded  to  the  solicitations  of  his  friends  and  made  a  partial 
canvass.  The  result,  though  he  was  defeated,  was  highly  gratifying  to  him 
and  astonished  even  his  most  ardent  admirers. 

At  the  next  election  he  was  placed  as  a  candidate  for  Assembly  on  the 
regular  Whig  ticket,  and  was  triumphantly  elected  in  a  district  profoundly 
Democratic. 

In  illustration  of  his  goodness  and  nobleness  of  heart,  the  following  in- 
cident is  related.  Ab  Trout,  a  poor  bare- footed  boy,  was  engaged  one  cold 
winter  day  in  chopping  a  pile  of  logs  from  an  old  house  or  stable  which  had 
been  pulled  down.  The  wood  was  dry  and  hard  and  the  boy  was  hard  at 
work,  when  Lincoln  came  up  and  asked  what  he  got  for  the  job,  and  what 
he  would  do  with  the  money.  "Ab"  said  $1.00  and,  pointing  to  his  naked 


LETTERS     TO     HEfcNDOST  315 

feet,  said:  "A  pair  of  shoes."  Abe  told  him  to  go  in  and  warm  and  he  would 
chop  awhile  for  him.  The  boy  delayed  a  little,  but  Lincoln  finished  the 
work,  threw  down  his  ax,  and  told  him  to  go  and  buy  the  shoes.  "Ab"  re- 
membered this  act  with  the  liveliest  gratitude.  Once  he,  being  a  cast-iron 
Democrat,,  determined  to  vote  against  his  party  and  for  Mr.  Lincoln;  but 
the  friends,  as  he  afterwards  said  with  tears  in  eyes,  made  him  drunk  and 
he  had  voted  against  Abe.  Thus  he  did  not  even  have  an  opportunity  to  re- 
turn the  noble  conduct  of  Mr.  Lincoln  by  this  small  measure  of  thanks. 

In  the  early  times  of  which  we  write  an  appeal  was  often  made  to  phys- 
ical strength  to  settle  controversies.  To  illustrate  this  feature  of  the  society 
in  which  Mr.  Lincoln  was  mingling,  it  may  be  well  to  relate  an  incident. 

Two  neighbors,  Henry  Clark  and  Ben  Wilcox,  had  had  a  law-suit.  The 
defeated  declared  that  although  he  was  beaten  in  the  suit,  he  could  whip  his 
opponent.  This  was  a  formal  challenge  and  was  at  once  carried  to  the  ears 
of  the  victor,  Wilcox — and  as  promptly  accepted.  The  time,  place,  and 
seconds  were  chosen  with  due  regularity — Mr.  Lincoln  being  Clark's  and 
John  Brewer  Wilcox's  second.  The  parties  met,  stripped  themselves  all 
but  their  breeches,  went  in,  and  Mr.  Lincoln's  principal  was  beautifully 
whipped.  These  combats  were  conducted  with  as  much  ceremony  and  punc- 
tiliousness as  ever  graced  the  dueling  ground.  After  the  conflict  the  seconds 
conducted  their  respective  principals  to  the  river,  washed  off  the  blood,  and 
assisted  them  to  dress.  During  this  performance,  the  second  of  the  party 
opposed  to  Mr.  Lincoln  remarked:  "Well,  Abe,  my  man  has  whipped  yours, 
and  I  can  whip  you/*  Now  this  challenge  came  from  a  man  who  was  very 
small  in  size.  Mr.  Lincoln  agreed  to  fight  provided  he  would  "chalk  out  his 
size  on  Mr.  Lincoln's  person,  and  every  blow  struck  outside  of  that  mark 
should  be  counted  foul."  After  this  sally  there  was  the  best  possible  humor 
and  all  parties  were  as  orderly  as  if  they  had  been  engaged  in  the  most 
harmless  amusement.  In  all  matters  of  dispute  about  horse-racing  or  any 
of  the  popular  pastimes  of  the  day,  Mr.  Lincoln's  judgment  was  final  to  all 
that  region  of  country.  People  relied  implicitly  upon  his  honesty,  integrity, 
and  impartiality. 

Very  soon  after  Mr.  lii&coln's  coming  to  New  Salem  and  while  clerking 
for  Offutt,  Offutt  made  a  bet  with  William  Clary  that  Abe  could  throw 
down  in  a  wrestle  any  man  in  the  county.  This  bet  was  taken,  and  Jack 
Armstrong,  a  rough,  and  the  best  fighter  in  Sangamon,  was  pitted  against 
him.  The  match  took  place  in  front  of  Offutt's  store.  All  the  men  of  the 
village  and  quite  a  number  from  the  surrounding  country  were  assembled. 
Armstrong  was  a  man  in  the  prime  of  life,  square-built,  muscular,  and 
strong  as  an  ox.  The  contest  began,  and  Jack  soon  found  so  worthy  an  an- 
tagonist t&at  he  **broke  his  holt,"  caught  Abe  by  the  leg,  and  would  have 


316  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

brought  him  to  the  ground,  had  not  Mr.  Lincoln  seized  him  by  the  throat 
and  thrust  him  at  arm's  length  from  him.  Jack  having  played  foul,  there 
was  every  prospect  of  a  general  fight.  At  this  time  James  Rutledge,  having 
heard  of  the  difficulty,  ran  into  the  crowd  and,  through  the  influence  which 
he  exerted  over  all  parties,  succeeded  in  quieting  the  disturbance  and  pre- 
venting a  fight. 

His  physical  strength  proved  of  vast  utility  to  him  in  his  many  arduous 
labors,  up  to  the  time  he  became  President,  and  a  man  of  less  iron  frame 
would  have  sunk  under  the  enormous  burdens  laid  upon  him  during  four 
years  marked  by  executive  cares  that  have  no  parallel  in  history. 

After  this  wrestling  match  Jack  Armstrong  and  his  crowd  became  the 
warmest  friends  and  stanchest  supporters  of  Mr.  Lincoln.  This  Jack  Arm- 
strong was  father  of  the  boy  who  was  some  years  afterwards  arrested  and 
tried  for  the  murder  of  young  Metzker,  and  who  was  voluntarily  defended 
and  cleared  by  Mr.  Lincoln.  The  account  of  this  remarkable  trial  is  already 
before  the  public  and  it  is  not  necessary  that  I  should  repeat  it  here.  Mr. 
Lincoln  never  forgot  the  friends  with  whom  he  was  associated  in  early  life. 
Soon  after  his  nomination  for  the  Presidency,  some  grandchildren  of  James 
Rutledge  circulated  the  report  that  Mr.  Lincoln  had  left  their  grand- 
father's house  without  paying  his  board  bill.  These  boys  were  reared  under 
Copperhead  influences  and  continued  in  the  faith  during  the  war.  This 
slanderous  report  reached  the  ears  of  Mrs.  Rutledge,  widow  of  James  Rut- 
ledge,  and  whom  he  always  called  "Aunt  Polly."  She  took  immediate  steps 
to  correct  the  infamous  libel  and  caused  a  letter  to  be  written  Mr.  Lincoln. 
Mr.  Lincoln  at  once  wrote  Mrs.  Rutledge,  expressing  his  thanks  for  her 
kindness  and  the  interest  manifested  in  his  behalf,  recurring  with  warm  ex- 
pressions of  remembrance  to  the  many  happy  days  spent  under  her  roof. 

While  Mr.  Lincoln  was  engaged  in  surveying,  he  wore  jeans,  pantaloons, 
"foxed/*  or  covered  on  the  forepart  and  below  the  knees  behind,  with  buck- 
skin. This  added  to  the  warmth,  protected  against  rain,  and  rendered  them 
more  durable  in  performing  the  labor  necessary  to  his  calling.  His  other 
clothing  was  such  as  worn  by  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  village. 

Trials  of  strength  were  very  common  among  the  pioneers.  Lifting 
weights,  as  heavy  timbers  piled  one  upon  another,  was  a  favorite  pastime, 
and  no  workman  in  the  neighborhood  could  at  all  cope  with  Mr.  Lincoln  in 
this  direction.  I  have  seen  him  frequently  take  a  barrel  of  whisky  by  the 
chimes  and  lift  it  up  to  his  face  as  if  to  drink  out  of  the  bunghole.  This  feat 
he  could  accomplish  with  the  greatest  ease.  I  never  saw  him  taste  or  drink 
a  drop  of  any  kind  of  spirituous  liquors. 

I  am  very  respectfully  yours,  etc., 

R.  B.  RUTLEDGE, 


LETTERS     TO     HEBSTDON  317 

I  have  omitted  an  incident  in  the  early  life  of  Mr,  Lincoln  which  I  will 
here  relate.  The  only  man  who  was  ever  successful  in  bringing  Lincoln  to 
the  ground  in  a  wrestle  was  Lorenzo  D.  Thompson,  a  very  large  and  power- 
ful man.  This  match  took  place  at  Bearstown,  Illinois,  the  general  ren- 
dezvous while  waiting  for  orders  to  march  against  Black  Hawk  and  his 
warriors.  In  this  match  Lincoln  was  taken  by  surprise,  and  in  the  first  trial 
Thompson  brought  him  to  the  ground,  but  in  two  successive  matches  Lin- 
coln came  off  victorious.  R.B.R. 


FROM  JOHN  JONES 

Winterset,  Iowa,  October  Q&,  1866.  * 

Having  seen  the  statements  made  by  R.  B.  Rutledge  in  reference  to  the 
early  life  of  Abraham  Lincoln  and  having  known  Mr.  Lincoln  and  been  an 
eye-witness  to  the  events  as  narrated,  from  my  boyhood,  I  take  pleasure  in 
saying  they  are  literally  true. 

As  to  the  relation  existing  between  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Ann  Rutledge,  I 
have  every  reason  to  believe  that  it  was  of  the  tenderest  character,  as  I 
know  of  my  own  knowledge  that  he  made  regular  visits  to  her.  During  her 
last  illness  he  visited  her  sick  chamber  and  on  his  return  stopped  at  my 
house.  It  was  very  evident  that  he  was  much  distressed,  and  I  was  not  sur- 
prised when  it  was  rumored  subsequently  that  his  reason  was  in  danger.  It 
was  generally  understood  that  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Ann  Rutledge  were  en- 
gaged to  be  married.  She  was  a  very  amiable  and  lovable  woman  and  it 
was  deemed  a  very  suitable  match — one  in  which  the  parties  were  in  every 
way  worthy  of  each  other. 

(Signed*)  JOHN  JONES* 

FROM  R.  B.  RUTLEDGE 

Qskaloosa,  November  18, 1866. 
My  dear  Friend: 

I  some  time  since  received  your  very  kind  letter  of  3d  inst*  and  owe 
you  an  apology  for  not  answering  sooner,  but  know  you  will  pardon  my 
seeming  indifference,  when  I  tell  you  I  have  been  moving  from  Burlington 
to  this  place. 

You  suggest  that  the  probable  cause  of  Ann's  sickness  was  her  conflicts^ 
emotions,  etc. ;  as  to  this  I  cannot  say.  I,  however,  have  my  own  private  con- 
victions ;  the  character  of  her  sickness  was  brain  fever. 

I  am  glad  to  know  that  you  feel  as  I  do,  that  injustice  is  done  Mentor 


318  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

Graham,  and  trust  largely  to  your  sense  of  justice  to  place  him  in  his  true 
light;  before  the  reading  world,  and  award  to  him  that  meed  of  praise  that 
is  due  the  man  who  assisted  in  laying  the  foundation  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  great- 
ness. I  know  of  my  own  knowledge  that  Mr.  Graham  contributed  more  to 
Mr,  Lincoln's  education  while  in  New  Salem  than  any  other  man.  If  Mr. 
Graham  is  living  and  you  should  meet  him,  tell  him  I  remember  my  old 
teacher  with  gratitude. 

I  received  a  copy  of  your  lecture,  a  day  or  two  since,  which  is  bold, 
manly,  and  substantially  true.  I  will  take  the  liberty  to  throw  a  little  light 
on  one  point  for  your  future  use;  to  wit,  Samuel  Hill  first  courted  Ann,  She 
declined  his  proposition  to  marry,  after  which  McNamar  paid  his  ad- 
dresses, resulting  in  an  engagement  to  marry;  after  McNamar  left  Menard 
County  to  visit  his  parents  and  during  his  prolonged  absence,  Mr.  Lincoln 
courted  Ann,  resulting  in  a  second  engagement,  not  conditional,  as  my  lan- 
guage would  seem  to  indicate,  but  absolute.  She,  however,  in  the  conversa- 
tion referred  to  by  me,  between  her  and  David,  urged  the  propriety  of 
seeing  Mr.  McNamar,  inform  him  of  the  change  in  her  feelings,  and  seek  an 
honorable  release,  before  consummating  the  engagement  with  Mr.  Lincoln 
by  marriage. 

I  hope  to  be  able  to  visit  you  this  winter,  as  I  assure  you  nothing  would 
give  me  more  pleasure  than  to  see  and  talk  with  the  man  who  appreciates 
the  virtues  and  character  of  Abraham  Lincoln. 

I  am,  my  dear  friend, 

Very  truly  yours, 

R.  B.  RUTLEDGE. 

FROM  R.  B.  RUTLEDGE 

OsJcdoosa,  November  %lt  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  have  just  received  your  two  letters  of  18th  and  19th  inst.  and  hasten 
to  answer. 

You  askj  first :  Do  I  truthfully  paint  the  old  pioneers,  with  classes — the 
oldest  class  and  our  fathers?  I  answer:  You  do.  You  ask,  secondly:  Do  I 
get  the  condition  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  mental  suffering  and  condition  truth- 
fully? I  cannot  answer  this  question  from  personal  knowledge,  but  from 
what  I  have  learned  from  others  at  the  time  you  are  substantially  correct. 
You  ask,  thirdly:  Do  I  truthfully  describe  New  Salem,  her  surroundings, 
from  1825  to  1837?  I  answer:  Your  picture  is  well  and  truthfully  drawn, 
as  it  appeared  to  me  from  1828  to  1836,  the  time  in  which  I  was  familiar 
with  the  place.  You  ask,  fourthly:  Do  I  get  the  facts  all  correctly,  and  tell 


LETTEBS    TO    HEBNDOH  319 

them  truthfully?  I  answer:  Subtantially  you  do,  but  probably  a  little  in 
error  in  detail  in  one  or  two  particulars ;  to  wit,  in  your  lecture  you  say  three 
men  fell  in  love  with  Ann  Rutledge  simultaneously.  The  facts  are  William 
Berry  first  courted  Ann  and  was  rejected;  afterwards  Samuel  Hill;  then 
John  McNamar,  which  resulted  in  an  engagement  to  marry  at  some  future 
time.  He,  McNamar,  left  the  county  on  business,  was  gone  some  years ;  in 
the  meantime  and  during  McNamar's  absence,  Mr.  Lincoln  courted  Ann 
and  engaged  to  marry  her,  on  the  completion  of  the  study  of  law.  In  this  I 
am  corroborated  by  James  McRutledge,  a  cousin  about  her  age,  and  who 
was  in  her  confidence.  He  says  in  a  letter  to  me  just  received:  "Ann  told 
me  once  in  coming  from  a  camp  meeting  on  Eock  Creek,  that  engagements 
made  too  far  ahead  sometimes  failed,  that  one  had  failed  (meaning  her  en- 
gagement with  McNamar),  and  gave  me  to  understand  that  as  soon  as  cer- 
tain studies  were  completed  she  and  Lincoln  would  be  married."  He  says 
you  and  Mr.  Cogsdell  talked  with  him  on  this  subject,  but  he  did  not  tell 
you  as  much,  as  he  thought  you  had  a  design  in  it ;  you  can  correspond  with 
him  and  say  to  him  that  this  is  no  longer  a  delicate  question,  inasmuch  as  it 
must  of  necessity  become  a  matter  of  history,  that  I  desire  the  whole  truth 
to  be  recorded.  I  think  you  are  in  error  as  to  the  cause  of  Ann's  sickness ; 
you  will  pardon  me  for  my  frankness,  as  I  wish  to  assist  you  in  developing 
the  truth,  the  whole  truth,  and  nothing  but  the  truth. 

I  have  no  doubt  but  Ann  had  fully  determined  to  break  off  the  engage- 
ment with  McNamar,  but  presume  she  had  never  notified  him  of  the  fact, 
as  he  did  not  return  until  after  her  death. 

You  are  also  in  error  in  relating  the  conversation  had  with  McNamar  on 
October  14,  1836 ;  you  will  bear  in  mind,  McNamar  left  the  county  in  1832 
or  1833  to  fetch  his  father's  family  to  Menard  County,  and  did  not  return 
with  them  until  the  fall  of  1835,  after  Ann's  death.  His  mother  died  some 
years  after  he  brought  her  to  Menard  County  and  was  buried  in  the  same 
graveyard.  McNamar  had  purchased  the  farm  on  which  we  lived  at  the 
time  of  Ann's  and  father's  death,  prior  to  his  leaving  the  county  in  1832. 

You  ask  me  how  I  like  your  lecture.  I  answer  I  like  it  very  much;  the 
great  wonder  with  me  is,  how  you  have  unearthed,  developed,  and  brought 
to  light  and  life  so  much  dead  matter,  and  made  so  few  mistakes. 

I  am,  dear  sir,  truly  your  friend, 

R.  B.  RUTLEDGE. 

P.S.  In  folding  this,  Mrs.  Rutledge  suggests  that  she  would  be  pleased 
to  desire  your  photograph  for  her  new  album,  as  she  desires  to  fill  it  ap 
with  new  as  well  as  old  friends. 

Yours, 

RUTLXDGR. 


320  THE    HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

FROM  J.  D.  WICKIZER 

Chicago,  III,  November  85, 1866. 

My  dear  Sir: 

Some  time  ago  you  asked  me  to  relate  any  anecdote  or  incident  I  might 
know  connected  with  the  late  lamented  President  Lincoln.  The  following 
"pig  story/'  No.  2,  is  literally  true. 

In  1855  Mr.  Lincoln  and  myself  were  traveling  by  buggy  from  Wood- 
ford  County  Court  to  Bloomington,  111.,  and  in  passing  through  a  little 
grove,  we  suddenly  heard  the  terrific  squealing  of  a  little  pig  near  by  us. 
Quick  as  thought  Mr.  L.  leaped  out  of  the  buggy,  seized  a  club,  and  pounced 
upon  an  old  sow,  and  beat  her  lustily,  that  was  in  the  act  of  eating  one  of 
her  young  ones,  and  thus  he  saved  the  pig  and  then  remarked:  "By  jingo! 
the  unnatural  old  brute  shall  not  devour  her  own  progeny."  This,  I  think 
was  his  first  proclamation  of  freedom.  The  following  shows  his  ready  wit. 
In  1858  in  the  court  at  Bloomington,  111.,  Mr.  Lincoln  was  engaged  in  a 
case,  of  not  very  great  importance,  but  the  attorney  on  the  other  side,  Mr. 
Scott,  a  young  lawyer  of  fine  abilities  (now  a  judge),  was  always  very 
sensitive  about  being  beaten,  and  in  this  case  manifested  unusual  zeal  and 
interest.  The  case  lasted  till  late  at  night,  when  it  was  finally  submitted  to 
the  jury.  Mr.  S.  spent  a  sleepless  night  in  anxiety.,  and  early  next  morning 
learned  to  his  great  chagrin  he  had  lost  the  case.  Mr.  Lincoln  met  him  at 
the  court  house  and  asked  him  what  had  become  of  his  case,  with  lugubrious 

countenance  and  melancholy  tone.  Mr.  S.  said:  "It's  gone  to  h 1."  "Oh, 

well,"  said  Mr.  L.,  "then  youll  see  it  again/' 

When  do  you  expect  to  finish  the  Life  of  Mr.  Lincoln?  I  opine  it  would 
be  a  very  readable  book,  from  what  I  have  seen  of  it. 

I  think  your  portraiture  of  him  is  most  excellent.  But  I  think,  take  him 
in  all,  we  shall  never  look  upon  his  like  again.  I  have  a  little  word  in  his 
own  handwriting  he  gave  me  at  Washington,  August  22, 1864,  the  last  time 
I  ever  saw  him,  which  I  intend  to  keep  most  sacredly  and  hand  down  to 
"posterity  yet  unborn/' 

Let  me  hear  from  you,  God  and  Liberty;  answer. 

J.  D.  WICKIZER. 

Hon.  Sec.  of  War,  please  see  &  hear  my  particular  friend  Capt. 
Wickizer. 

A.  LINCOLN. 
Aug.  M>  1864, 


LETTERS    TO     HERNDON  321 

FROM  R.  B.  RUTLEDGE 

Oskaloosa,  December  If,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Your  letter  of  1st  inst.  is  before  me,  and  I  answer:  first.,  I  think  Mr.  Lin- 
coln read  law  in  1834  and  1835,  read  surveying  probably  in  1833  and  '34?; 
second,  I  cannot  say  whether  Mr.  Lincoln  was  radically  a  changed  man, 
after  the  event  of  which  you  speak  or  not,  as  I  saw  little  of  him  after  that 
time ;  third,  when  he  first  came  to  New  Salem  and  up  to  the  time  of  which 
we  write,  Mr.  Lincoln  was  all  life  and  animation,  seemed  to  see  the  bright 
side  of  every  picture ;  fourth,  cannot  say  as  to  his  habit  of  learning  eloquent 
pieces  by  heart,  he  was  ever  ready  with  an  appropriate  response  to  any 
vein  of  humor  or  eloquence  when  occasion  required,  have  frequently  heard 
him  repeat  pieces  of  prose  and  poetry,  his  practice  was,  when  he  wished 
to  indelibly  fix  anything  he  was  reading  or  studying  on  his  mind,  to  write 
it  down,  have  known  him  to  write  whole  pages  of  books  he  was  reading; 
fifth,  cannot  tell  you  how  he  read  in  the  woods,  as  I  never  intruded  on  his 
retirement,  simply  know  he  read  in  the  woods  by  seeing  him  return  and 
having  heard  him  say  he  had  been  reading  in  the  brush,  have  seen  him 
reading,  walking  the  streets,  occasionally  become  absorbed  with  his  book, 
would  stop  and  stand  for  a  few  moments,  then  walk  on,  or  pass  from  one 
house  in  the  town  to  another,  or  from  one  crowd  or  squad  of  men  to  another, 
apparently  seeking  amusement,  with  his  book  under  his  arm,  when  the  com- 
pany or  amusement  became  dry  or  irksome  he  would  open  his  book  and 
commune  with  it  for  a  time,  then  return  it  to  its  usual  resting  place,  and 
entertain  his  audience;  sixth,  as  well  as  I  remember  he  was  not  what  is 
usually  termed  a  quick-minded  man,  although  he  usually  would  arrive  at 
his  conclusions  very  readily,  seemed  invariably  to  reflect  and  deliberate, 
never  acted  from  impulse  so  far  as  to  arrive  at  a  wrong  conclusion  on  a 
subject  of  any  moment. 

I  desire  you  to  learn  all  you  can  from  James  McRutledge  as  to  the  break- 
ing off  the  engagement  between  Ann  and  McNamar. 

Very  truly  yours, 
R.  B.  RUTLEDGE. 


FROM  J.  GILLESPIE 

Edwardsville,  December  B,  1866. 
Dear  Friend: 

Yours  of  yesterday  is  received  in  which  you  ask  if  I  remember  whether 


322  THE    HIDDEN 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  given  to  abstract  speculation  or  not.  My  impression  is 
that  he  was  less  given  to  pure  abstraction  than  most  of  thoughtful  and 
investigating  minds.  I  should  say  that  he  was  contemplative  rather  than 
speculative.  He  wanted  something  solid  to  rest  upon  and  hence  his  bias 
for  mathematics  and  the  physical  sciences.  I  think  he  bestowed  more  at- 
tention to  them  than  upon  metaphysical  speculations.  I  have  heard  him  dis- 
course upon  the  problem  whether  a  ball  discharged  from  a  gun  in  a  hori- 
zontal position  would  be  longer  in  reaching  the  ground  than  one  dropped  at 
the  instant  of  discharge  from  the  muzzle  of  the  gun,  and  he  said  it  always 
appeared  to  him  that  they  would  both  reach  the  ground  at  the  same  time 
even  before  he  had  read  the  philosophical  explanation.  He  was  fond  of 
astronomy,  but  I  can't  call  to  mind  any  reference  of  his  to  geology.  He 
doubtless  had  read  and  thought  of  the  subject  but  it  did  not  engage  his  at- 
tention to  the  degree  that  astronomy  and  mechanical  science  did.  He  in- 
vited me  one  day  at  Washington  city  to  call  upon  him  in  the  evening  when 
he  said  we  would  go  to  the  observatory  and  take  a  look  at  the  moon  through 
the  large  telescope.  It  proved  to  be  cloudy  and  I  did  not  go.  I  have  no 
recollection  of  ever  hearing  Mr.  Lincoln  express  himself  in  reference  to 
the  infinities;  sometimes  his  mind  ranged  beyond  the  solid  grounds  on 
which  it  delighted  to  dwell.  He  exercised  himself  in  endeavoring  to  trace 
out  the  source  and  development  of  language  and  he  told  me  that  on  one 
occasion  he  prepared,  or  perhaps  delivered,  a  lecture  in  Springfield  on  that 
subject  and  that  he  was  surprised  to  find  his  investigations  in  that  direc- 
tion so  interesting  and  instructive  to  himself.  He  used  to  say  [of]  the  at- 
tempt to  ascertain  wherein  wit  baffled  him  more  than  any  other  undertaking 
of  the  kind  that  the  first  impression  would  be  that  the  thing  was  of  easy 
solution  but  the  varieties  of  wit  were  so  great  that  what  would  explain  one 
case  would  be  wholly  inapplicable  to  another.  I  am  of  opinion  that  there 
was  a  slight  tinge  of  fatalism  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  composition  which  would 
or  might  have  led  him  to  believe  somewhat  in  destiny.  Mr.  Lincoln  told  me 
once  that  he  could  not  avoid  believing  in  predestination  although  he  cpn- 
sidered  it  a  very  unprofitable  field  of  speculation  because  it  was  hard  to 
reconcile  that  belief  with  responsibility  for  one's  acts.  After  he  became 
President  he  gave  unmistakable  indications  of  being  a  believer  in  destiny. 
I  feel  quite  sure  that  there  was  not  a  moment  when  he  despaired  of  success 
in  putting  down  the  rebellion,  and  he  trusted  more  in  Divine  power  than 
in  human  instrumentality.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  as  strong  a  faith  that  it  was 
in  the  purposes  of  the  Almighty  to  save  this  country  as  ever  Moses  had 
that  God  would  deliver  the  Israelites  from  bondage,  and  he  came  to  be- 
lieve that  he  himself  was  an  instrument  foreordained  to  aid  in  the  ae^ 
complishment  of  this  purpose  as  well  as  to  emancipate  the  slaves.  I  do  not 


LETTERS    TO     HEB.N&ON  328 


think  that  he  was  what  I  would  term  a  blind  believer  in  fate  or  destiny  but 
that  he  considered  the  means  foreordained  as  well  as  the  end  and  there- 
fore he  was  extremely  diligent  in  the  use  of  the  means.  Mr.  Lincoln  had 
a  remarkably  inquiring  mind,  and  I  have  no  doubt  he  roamed  over  the 
whole  field  of  knowledge.  There  were  departments,  however,  upon  which 
he  fixed  his  attention  with  special  interest.  Those  which  were  of  a  practical 
character  and  having  a  solid  and  indisputable  basis  he  made  himself  mas- 
ter of  so  far  as  time  and  opportunity  would  allow,  and  this  will  account 
for  his  bringing  out  certain  branches  in  conversation  and  being  silent  in 
regard  to  others  about  which  he  must  have  read  as  much  as  persons  ordi- 
narily  do.  He  did  not  seem  to  think  that  to  be  of  much  value  which  could 
not  be  proven  or  rather  demonstrated.  His  love  of  and  capacity  for  analysis 
was  wonderful.  He  analyzed  every  proposition  with  startling  clearness 
and  only  discussed  those  branches  of  his  case  upon  which  it  hinged,  leaving 
the  others  clear  out  of  view.  He  was  a  marvel  of  fairness  in  debate  both 
in  the  courts  and  the  political  arena  and  he  never  desired  to  obtain  an 
unfair  advantage.  From  this  I  should  infer  that  the  sense  of  right  and 
wrong  was  extremely  acute  in  his  nature.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  undemonstrative 
and  consequently  his  character  had  to  be  studied  to  be  understood.  One 
would  not  comprehend  his  salient  traits  at  first  acquaintance  and  so  he 
was  sometimes  misunderstood.  He  was  by  some  considered  cold-hearted  or 
at  least  indifferent  towards  his  friends.  This  was  the  result  of  his  extreme 
fairness.  He  would  rather  disoblige  a  friend  than  do  an  act  of  injustice 
to  a  political  opponent.  His  strong  sense  of  justice  made  him  hate  slavery 
intensely,  but  he  was  so  undemonstrative  that  he  seldom  gave  utterance 
to  his  feelings  even,  on  that  question.  He  never  talked  feelingly  on  the 
subject  to  me  but  once,  although  he  knew  that  I  agreed  with  him  about 
the  wrongs  of  that  institution.  To  sum  up  his  character  I  should  say  that 
he  had  greater  natural  mental  caliber  than  any  man  I  ever  knew.  He  was 
extremely  just  and  fair-minded.  He  was  gentle  as  a  girl  and  yet  as  firm  for 
the  right  as  adamant.  He  was  tender-hearted  without  much  show  of  sensi- 
bility. His  manners  were  kind  without  ostentation.  He  was  unquestion- 
ably ambitious  for  official  distinction  but  he  only  desired  place  to  enable 
him  to  do  good  and  serve  his  country  and  his  kind.  It  was  somewhat  strange 
how  Mr.  Lincoln,  constituted  as  he  was,  could  be  a  radical.  But  radical  he 
was  so  far  as  ends  were  concerned^  while  he  was  conservative  as  to  the 
means  to  be  employed  to  bring  about  the  ends.  I  think  he  had  it  in  his 
mind  for  a  long  time  to  war  upon  slavery  until  its  destruction  was  effected, 
but  he  always  indicated  a  preference  for  getting  rid  of  slavery  by  purchase 
rather  than  the  war  power.  He  was  an  artful  man  and  yet  his  art  had  all 
the  appearance  of  simple-mindedness.  For  instance,  he  would  not  begin  thf 


324  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

work  of  emancipation  when  proposed  by  Fremont  nor  would  he  proclaim 
the  freedom  of  the  slave  until  he  had  given  the  masters  one  hundred  days* 
notice  to  lay  down  their  arms.  This  was  done  to  place  them  obviously  in 
the  wrong  and  strengthen  his  justification  for  the  act.  Mr.  Lincoln  knew 
that  it  was  not  in  the  power  of  the  masters  to  lay  down  their  arms,  but 
they  being  in  the  wrong,  he  had  no  scruples  about  making  that  wrong  ap- 
pear monstrous.  He  was  grave  and  gay  alternately.  He  was  the  most 
rigidly  logical  in  debate  and  yet  he  illustrated  every  point  by  a  humorous 
anecdote.  Study  with  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  business^  not  a  pleasure.  He  was 
extremely  diligent  when  he  had  anything  to  do  in  preparing  himself,  but 
when  his  task  was  done,  he  betook  himself  to  recreation.  The  information 
he  gathered  up  was  in  reference  to  special  questions  and  not  with  a  view 
of  laying  in  a  general  store  of  knowledge,  expecting  that  he  would  have 
occasion  to  use  it,  and  yet  his  natural  tastes  and  aptitudes  led  him  to 
explore  most  of  those  departments  of  study  which  bore  mainly  on  the 
practical  affairs  of  life.  He  had  not  a  particle  of  envy  in  his  nature.  He 
always  admitted  that  Douglas  was  a  wonderfully  great  political  leader, 
and  with  a  good  cause  to  advocate  he  thought  he  would  be  invincible.  Mr. 
Lincoln  appeared  to  be  either  extremely  mirthful  or  extremely  sad  although 
if  he  had  griefs  he  never  spoke  of  them  in  general  conversation.  It  was 
as  a  humorist  that  he  towered  above  all  other  men  it  was  ever  my  lot  to 
meet.  In  early  times  Illinois  was  conspicuous  for  the  number  of  its  story 
tellers.  The  prevailing  taste  at  that  time  took  that  direction.  When  Mr, 
Lincoln  was  about,  I  never  knew  a  man  who  would  pretend  to  vie  with  him 
in  entertaining  a  crowd.  He  had  an  unfailing  budget  of  genuinely  witty 
and  humorous  anecdotes  with  which  he  illustrated  every  topic  which  could 
arise.  The  application  was  always  perfect  and  his  manner  of  telling  a 
story  was  inimitable,  although  there  was  no  acting  in  his  manner,  for  he 
was  not  in  the  least  degree  histrionic.  He  never  invented  any  of  his  stories 
but  simply  retailed  them,  but  how  he  could  gather  up  such  a  boundless 
supply  and  have  them  ever  ready  at  command  was  the  wonder  of  all  his 
acquaintances.  It  might  seem  that  this  faculty  would  detract  from  his 
dignity^  but  it  did  not.  No  man  ever  commanded  greater  respect  from  or 
inspired  more  confidence  in  an  audience  than  Mr.  Lincoln  did.  He  used 
his  stories  as  much  for  producing  conviction  in  the  minds  of  his  hearers 
as  for  creating  merriment.  If  Mr.  Lincoln  studied  any  one  thing  more  than 
another  and  for  effect,  it  was  to  make  himself  understood  by  all  classes. 
He  had  great  natural  clearness  and  simplicity  of  statement,  and  this 
faculty  he  cultivated  with  marked  assiduity.  He  despised  everything  like 
ornament  or  display  and  confined  himself  to  a  dry  bold  statement  of  his 
point  and  then  worked  away  with  sledge-hammer  logic  at  making  out 


LETTEBS    TO     H  E  E  N  I>  O  N  325 

his  case,  I  believe  Mr.  Lincoln  succeeded  in  his  purpose,  for  I  think  the 
great  body  of  our  people  understood  and  appreciated  him  better  than  any 
man  this  country  has  ever  produced. 

In  religious  matters  I  think  Mr,  Lincoln  cared  but  little  for  tenets  or 
sects  but  had  strong  and  pervading  ideas  of  the  infinite  power,  wisdom, 
and  goodness  of  Deity  and  of  man's  obligations  to  his  Maker  and  to  his 
fellow-beings.  He  was  economical  without  being  parsimonious.  He  never 
attempted  a  speculation  in  his  life  but  always  displayed  a  commendable 
zeal  and  alacrity  to  obtain  business.  He  was  brave  without  being  rash  and 
never  refrained  from  giving  utterance  to  his  views  because  they  were  un- 
popular or  likely  to  bring  him  into  danger ;  at  the  same  time  he  abstained 
from  needlessly  giving  offense.  Mr.  Lincoln  never  idolized  particular  men 
but  had  wonderful  faith  in  the  honesty  and  good  sense  of  the  masses.  In 
politics  he  was  an  old-line  Whig,  a  devout  believer  in  a  national  currency, 
the  development  of  American  industry,  and  internal  improvements  by  the 
general  government.  He  always  deprecated  the  removal  of  men  from 
office  for  opinion's  sake.  Although  Mr.  Lincoln  was  eminently  national  in 
his  feelings  he  looked  with  disfavor  upon  the  American  party  and  con- 
tended that  a  love  of  liberty  and  free  government  was  not  confined  to  this 
country;  he  ascribed  our  beneficent  institutions  rather  to  circumstances, 
and  his  aim  was  to  restrict  it  to  its  original  design.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  the 
appearance  of  being  a  slow  thinker.  My  impression  is  that  he  was  not  so 
slow  as  he  was  careful.  He  never  liked  to  put  forth  a  proposition  without 
revolving  it  over  in  his  own  mind,  but  when  he  was  compelled  to  act 
promptly,  as  in  debate,  he  was  quick  enough.  Douglas,  who  was  a  very 
skillful  controversialist,  never  obtained  any  advantage  over  him.  I  never 
could  discover  anything  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  mental  composition  remarkably 
singular.  His  qualities  were  those  ordinarily  given  to  mankind,  but  he 
had  them  in  remarkable  degree.  He  was  wonderfully  kind,  careful^  and 
just.  He  had  an  immense  stock  of  common  sense  and  he  had  faith  enough 
in  it  to  trust  it  in  every  emergency.  He  had  passed  through  all  the  grades 
of  society  when  he  reached  the  Presidency,  and  he  had  found  common 
sense  a  sure  reliance  and  he  put  it  into  practice.  He  acted  all  through  his 
career  upon  just  such  principles  as  every  man  of  good  common  sense 
would  approve  and  say:  that  is  just  as  I  would  have  done  myself.  There 
was  nothing  of  the  Napoleonic  in  his  style  of  doing  things.  If  he  had  been 
in  Napoleon's  place,  he  never  would  have  gone  off  to  Egypt  to  strike  a 
blow  at  England,  and  he  would  have  been  equally  careful  not  to  send  an 
army  to  Moscow.  Lincoln  had  no  superhuman  qualities,  which  we  call 
genius,  but  he  had  those  which  belong  to  mankind  generally  in  an  aston- 
ishing degree.  If  I  may  be  allowed  the  expression,  Mr.  Lincoln  was  a 


326  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

great  common  man.  He  was  a  giant,  but  formed  and  fashioned  like  other 
men.  He  only  differed  from  most  men  in  degree.  He  had  only  their  qualities 
but  there  he  had  them  in  larger  measure  than  any  man  of  modern  times.  He 
loved  the  masses  but  was  not  strikingly  partial  to  any  particular  individual. 
Mr.  Lincoln  cared  but  little  for  minor  elections  but  entered  very  zealously 
into  important  and  general  ones.  Hence  he  was  not  generally  successful 
at  home  and  was  not  considered  a  good  political  organizer  because  he 
allowed  the  subordinate  offices  to  be  filled  by  those  opposed  to  him.  When 
he  had  a  larger  theater  to  operate  upon,  however,  it  cannot  be  denied  that 
he  acted  with  great  boldness  and  skill.  He  succeeded  in  breaking  down  the 
best  organized  party  that  ever  existed  in  this  or  any  other  country  and 
that  under  the  lead  of  the  most  consummate  chieftain  we  have  ever  had. 
Douglas  was  bold,  original,  and  energetic.  Politics  with  him  was  a  trade. 
It  was  only  an  episode  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  life.  Douglas  was  idolized  by  his 
followers.  Lincoln  was  loved  by  his.  Douglas  was  the  representative  of 
his  partisans.  Lincoln  was  the  representative  man  of  the  unsophisticated 
people.  Douglas  was  great  in  the  estimation  of  his  followers.  Lincoln  was 
good  in  the  opinion  of  his  supporters.  Douglas  headed  a  party.  Lincoln 
stood  upon  a  principle.  Lincoln  did  not  begin  his  operations  for  the  Presi- 
dency at  the  head  of  a  party.  He  had  the  tact  and  good  fortune  to  com- 
bine much  of  the  old  Whig  and  Democratic  parties  as  rebelled  against 
Southern  dictation,  with  the  free-soilers  proper,  and  thus  secured  a 
majority  of  the  free  States.  At  the  time  of  his  death  he  had,  however,  suc- 
ceeded in  organizing  a  party.  He  had  gained  the  confidence  of  a  majority 
of  the  whole  people  in  his  fitness  for  the  place.  All  but  the  old  political 
hacks  had  settled  down  in  the  belief  that  he  was  master  of  the  situation 
and  was  the  right  man  in  the  right  place.  The  amazing  popularity  he  ob- 
tained was  attributable  to  two  things.  He  had  been  successful  under  the 
most  trying  circumstances  and  then  he  was  most  emphatically  one  of  the 
people.  He  said  and  did  things  in  a  way  that  commended  itself  to  the  pub- 
lic taste  and  so  that  all  could  understand  it.  The  masses  are  naturally 
delighted  at  seeing  one  of  their  own  class  elevated,  if  he  proves  competent 
and  particularly  if  he  succeeds  by  doing  things  in  their  way.  The  idea 
that  the  affairs  of  state  cannot  be  carried  on  in  a  plain  common  sense  way 
is  as  old  as  the  time  of  the  Egyptian  priesthood.  Statesmen  have  generally 
given  countenance  to  this  absurdity  and  inculcated  the  idea  that  statecraft 
was  beyond  the  comprehension  of  ordinary  mortals.  When  we  found  Mr. 
Lincoln  administering  the  affairs  of  government  with  so  much  vigor  and 
success,  we  felt  proud  of  him.  There  was  a  strong  tinge  of  sadness  in 
Mr.  Lincoln's  composition.  He  was  not  naturally  disposed  to  look  on  the 
bright  side  of  the  picture.  He  felt  very  strongly  that  there  was  more  of 


LETTERS     TO     HEBNDON  327 

discomfort  than  real  happiness  in  human  existence  under  the  most  favor- 
able circumstances,  and  the  general  current  of  his  reflections  was  in  that 
channel.  He  never  obtruded  those  views  upon  others  but  on  the  contrary 
strove  as  much  as  possible  to  be  gay  and  lively.  There  was  a  slight  dash 
of  what  is  generally  called  superstition  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  mind.  He  evi- 
dently believed  that  the  perceptions  were  sometimes  more  unerring  than 
reason  and  outstripped  it.  I  can't  say  that  he  fully  believed  in  presenti- 
ments, but  he  undoubtedly  had  gloomy  forebodings  as  to  himself.  He  told 
me  after  his  election  that  he  did  not  count  confidentially  on  living  to  get 
through  with  the  task  set  before  him,  and  I  did  not  think  that  he  appre- 
hended death  in  the  natural  way;  still  I  do  not  believe  that  he  took  any 
precautions  to  guard  against  danger.  I  met  him  once,  coming  alone  from 
the  War  Office  to  the  White  House,  and  remarked  to  him  that  I  thought  he 
was  exposing  himself  to  danger  of  assassination.  He  replied  that  no  pre- 
cautions he  could  take  would  be  availing  if  they  were  determined  to  kill 
him.  I  rode  out  with  him  that  evening  to  the  Soldiers'  House,  when  he  was 
accompanied  by  an  escort  of  cavalry;  on  the  way  he  said  that  the  escort 
was  rather  forced  upon  him  by  the  military  men,  that  he  could  see  no 
certain  protection  against  assassination  if  it  was  determined  to  take  away 
his  life.  He  said  it  seemed  to  him  like  putting  up  the  gaps  in  only  one 
place  when  the  fence  was  down  all  along.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  pre-eminently 
humane.  He  said  to  me  once  that  Ould,  the  rebel  commissioner  for  ex- 
changes, had  just  notified  them  that  he  had  put  16,000  of  the  men  paroled 
at  Vicksburg  into  the  field  without  exchanging.  "Now,"  said  he,  "these  men 
are  liable  to  be  put  to  death  when  recaptured,  for  breach  of  parole.  If 
we  do  not  do  something  of  that  sort,  this  outrage  will  be  repeated  on  every 
occasion.  What  would  you  do  under  such  circumstances?"  "Well,"  said  I, 
"that  is  too  big  a  question  for  me."  "It  is  indeed  a  serious  question/'  said 
Mr.  Lincoln,  "and  I  have  been  more  sorely  tried  by  it  than  any  other 
that  has  occurred  during  the  war.  It  will  be  an  act  of  great  injustice  to 
our  soldiers  to  allow  the  paroled  rebels  to  be  put  into  the  field  without 
exchange.  Such  a  practice  would  demoralize  almost  any  army  in  the  world 
if  played  off  upon  them.  It  would  be  nearly  impossible  to  induce  them  to 
spare  the  lives  of  prisoners  they  might  capture.  On  the  other  hand,"  said 
he,  "these  men  were  no  doubt  told  by  their  superiors  that  they  had  been 
exchanged  and  it  would  be  hard  to  put  them  to  death  under  such  circum- 
stances. On  the  whole,"  said  he,  "my  impression  is  that  mercy  bears  richer 
fruits  than  any  other  attribute."  Mr.  Lincoln  was  capable  of  immense 
physical  and  mental  labor.  His  mind  and  body  were  in  perfect  harmony. 
He  was  very  powerful  physically.  He  was  reputed  to  be  one  of  the  best 
wrestlers  in  the  country.  The  first  time  I  saw  hiyn  was  in  1832  in  the  cant- 


328  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

paign,  against  Black  Hawk.  He  was  engaged  in  wrestling  with  a  man 
named  Dow  Thompson  from  St.  Clair  County.  The  latter  was  the  cham- 
pion of  the  southern  part  of  the  State.,  while  Lincoln  was  put  up  as  the 
champion  from  the  north.  I  never  heard  Mr.  Lincoln  complain  of  heing 
fatigued.  I  think  he  was  an  utter  stranger,  in  the  early  part  of  his  life 
at  least,  to  the  feeling.  I  have  heard  him  regret  while  he  was  President 
that  it  was  impossible  for  him  to  give  audience  to  all  who  wished  to  see 
him,  and  I  do  not  think  that  he  was  disengaged  for  an  instant,  from  the 
time  he  assumed  the  Presidential  office  until  his  death,  from  the  considera- 
tion of  public  affairs,  except  when  he  was  asleep.  He  was  not  in  the  habit 
of  idolizing  particular  men,  and  you  would  seldom  hear  him  sounding  the 
praises  of  anyone.  He  admired  Mr.  Clay  and  Mr.  Webster  and  had  great 
respect  for  General  Taylor.  Of  all  men  in  the  South  (of  those  who  dif- 
fered from  him  on  the  slavery  question,  I  mean),  Mr.  Stephens  of  Georgia 
was  his  favorite.  I  have  frequently  heard  him  speak  in  very  respectful 
terms  of  Stephens.  On  the  other  hand  he  never  manifested  any  bitter 
hatred  towards  his  enemies.  It  was  enough  for  him  in  a  controversy  to  get 
the  better  of  his  adversary  in  argument  without  descending  to  personal 
abuse.  He  had  not  a  particle  of  envy  in  his  nature.  I  recollect  his  telling 
me  once  that  he  went  to  Cincinnati  to  attend  to  a  patent  case.  He  was 
expected  to  take  the  lead  in  the  management  of  the  suit  but  to  be  assisted 
by  a  young  lawyer  of  that  city.  He  said  he  prepared  himself,  as  he  thought, 
thoroughly  and  flattered  himself  that  he  knew  something  of  mechanics  but 
said:  "When  I  came  to  compare  notes  with  my  young  associate,  I  found 
that  I  knew  nothing/'  Said  he:  "I  told  my  client  that  my  associate  could 
lose  all  I  knew  and  not  miss  it,  and  I  insisted  that  he  should  take  the  lead." 
It  required  no  effort  on  his  part  to  admit  another  man's  superiority,  and 
his  admission  that  General  Grant  was  right  and  he  was  wrong  about  op- 
erations at  Vicksburg  was  not  intended  for  effect  as  some  suppose  but  was 
perfectly  in  character.  I  am  unable  to  call  to  mind  any  expression  from 
Mr.  Lincoln  of  a  preference  for  one  article  of  diet  over  another.  I  should 
judge  that  he  was  totally  indifferent  on  that  head.  Mr.  Lincoln  had  an 
astonishing  memory.  I  never  found  it  at  fault.  He  could  recall  every  in- 
cident of  his  life,  particularly  if  anything  amusing  was  connected  with 
it.  Mr.  Lincoln  used  anecdotes  as  labor-saving  contrivances.  He  could  con- 
vey his  ideas  on  any  subj  ect  through  the  form  of  a  simple  story  or  homely 
illustration  with  better  effect  than  any  man  I  ever  knew.  To  illustrate:  I 
was  talking  with  him  once  about  State  sovereignty.  He  said  the  advocates 
of  that  theory  always  reminded  him  of  the  fellow  who  contended  that  the 
proper  place  for  the  big  kettle  was  inside  of  the  little  one.  There  is  one 
little  incident  in  the  political  life  of  Mr.  Lincoln  which  perhaps  ought  to 


LET TEES    TO     HERN DON  329 

be  explained,  as  it  has  been  charged  by  some  against  him  as  an  act  of 
dereliction  of  duty;  and  that  was  his  jumping  out  of  a  window,  to  avoid 
voting  as  a  member  of  the  Legislature.  The  facts  were  these:  Governor 
Carlin  convened  the  Legislature  of  1 840-41  by  proclamation,  two  weeks 
earlier  than  it  would  have  met  under  the  Constitution.  At  the  previous  ses- 
sion an  act  had  been  passed  legalizing  the  suspension  of  specie  payments 
by  the  bank  until  the  end  of  the  next  session  of  the  general  assembly. 
On  the  morning  of  the  last  day  of  the  first  two  weeks  of  the  session,  as  we 
supposed,  it  was  ascertained  that  the  Democrats  had  determined  to  ad- 
journ sine  die,  make  those  two  weeks  a  distinct  session,  at  the  end  of  which 
the  bank  would  be  compelled  to  resume  specie  payments  or  forfeit  its  char- 
ter* The  Whigs  believed  that  this  step  would  be  not  only  unfair  to  the 
bank,  which  had  had  no  notice  of  or  made  any  preparation  for  such  a  pro- 
ceeding, and  that  it  would  benefit  only  the  banks  of  other  States,  which 
held  the  paper  of  our  bank,  by  enabling  them  to  draw  its  specie  for  its 
bills  which  they  held  while  it  could  get  nothing  from  them  on  their  bills 
which  it  held  and  that  the  loss  or  the  depreciation  of  our  bank  circulation 
would  fall  principally  upon  our  citizens  who  were  holders  of  small  sums. 
The  Whigs  determined  if  possible  to  prevent  the  sine  die  adjournment, 
knowing  that  the  Constitution  would  convene  the  Legislature  on  the  fol- 
lowing Monday.  It  required  a  quorum  to  adjourn  sine  die.  Less  than  a 
quorum  could  adjourn  from  day  to  day.  As  the  Constitution  then  stood, 
it  was  necessary  to  have  two  members  to  call  the  ayes  and  nays  to  show 
that  a  quorum  was  not  voting.  If  the  Whigs  absented  themselves,  there 
would  not  be  a  quorum  left  even  with  the  two  who  should  be  deputed  to 
call  the  ayes  and  nays.  The  Whigs  immediately  held  a  meeting  and  re- 
solved that  they  would  all  stay  out  except  Lincoln  and  me,  who  were  to 
call  the  ayes  and  nays.  We  appeared  in  the  afternoon,  motion  to  adjourn 
sine  die  was  made,  and  we  called  the  ayes  and  nays.  The  Democrats  dis- 
covered the  game,  and  the  sergeant-at-anns  was  sent  out  to  gather  up  the 
absentees.  There  was  great  excitement  in  the  House,  which  was  then  held 
in  a  church  in  Springfield.  We  soon  discovered  that  several  Whigs  had  been 
caught  and  brought  in  and  that  the  plan  had  been  spoiled,  and  we,  Lincoln 
and  I,  determined  to  leave  the  hall  and,  going  to  the  door,  found  it  locked, 
and  then  raised  a  window  and  jumped  out  but  not  until  the  Democrats 
had  succeeded  in  adjourning.  Mr.  Gridley  of  McLean  accompanied  us  in 
our  exit.  The  result  of  this  operation  was  jnst  as  we  anticipated.  The  bank 
resumed  and  paid  out  nearly  all  of  its  specie  to  banks  and  brokers  in  other 
States  while  not  a  cent  could  be  obtained  from  them,  as  the  banks  every- 
where had  been  authorized  to  suspend  specie  payments.  In  a  few  weeks 
the  folly  of  the  course  of  the  majority  became  apparent,  and  they  them- 


330  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

selves  introduced  a  bill  again  legalizing  a  suspension  but  it  was  too  late. 
Our  bank  had  been  too  much  weakened  and  it  went  under  at  the  general 
resumption  of  specie  payments.  I  think  Mr.  Lincoln  always  regretted  that 
he  entered  into  the  arrangement,  as  he  deprecated  everything  that  savored 
of  the  revolutionary.  In  politics  Mr.  Lincoln  was  before  all  things  in 
favor  of  perfect  equality.  He  consequently  detested  aristocracy  in  all  its 
forms  and  loved  our  government  and  its  founders  almost  to  idolatry.  He 
was  for  a  national  currency,  internal  improvements  by  the  general  govern- 
ment, and  the  encouragement  of  home  manufactures.  On  this  latter  subject 
I  have  heard  him  make  arguments  greatly  more  powerful  and  convincing 
than  anything  I  have  ever  heard  or  read. 

This  is  a  hasty  sketch  of  what  I  remember  concerning  Mr.  Lincoln. 
If  my  attention  should  be  directed  to  any  particulars,  I  might  be  able  to 
recall  other  things  and  shall  take  great  pleasure  in  answering  any  calls 
you  may  make  on  me.  Let  me  hear  from  you  often.  If  I  can  be  the  means 
of  imparting  any  information  touching  the  life  of  a  truly  good  and  great 
man,  I  shall  be  supremely  gratified.  I  feel  proud  of  his  fame  as  I  have 
ever  regarded  him  as  the  genuine  product  of  American  institutions. 

Yours  truly, 
J.  GILLESPIE. 


FROM  GRANT?  GOODRICH 

Chicago,  December  9,  1866. 
Dear  Sir: 

Your  favor  of  the  <5th  is  received.  In  reply  I  have  to  say,  Mr,  Lincoln 
was  my  associate  first  in  the  trial  of  three  cases  vs.  Grace  Lawson  in  1845 
for  fraud  and  misrepresentations,  in  the  sale  of  land.  The  cases  were 
severely  contested.  Messrs.  Butterfield  and  Collins  and  Edw.  Baker,  Esqsu, 
being  counsel  for  defendant.  Mr.  Lincoln  in  closing  the  case  made  the  best 
jury  argument  I  ever  heard  him  make.  Judge  Pope  said  it  was  one  of  the 
best  he  ever  heard. 

The  case  of  Parker  vs.  Hoyt  was  for  infringement  of  a  patent  water- 
wheel.  My  recollection  is  it  was  commenced  in  1 846  or  '47 ;  Mr.  Lincoln 
was  employed  for  the  defendant.  It  was  for  trial  in  June  1848.  There  was 
some  technical  error  in  the  notices  of  the  matter  in  dispute  and  on  motion 
of  the  plaintiff  most  of  the  defendant's  evidence  was  excluded  and  defeat 
seemed  inevitable.  At  that  time  a  term  of  the  United  States  District  Court 
was  held  at  Chicago  on  the  first  Monday  of  July.  The  only  way  of  saving 
the  case  was  to  get  it  over  to  the  term  at  Chicago,  by  which  time  would  be 


I/ETTEES    TO     HEKNDON  331 

secured  to  correct  the  error  in  the  notices.  Motions  were  made  on  both 
sides  which  involved  numerous  questions  new  to  the  counsel  and  court,  as 
very  few  patent  cases  had  then  been  tried  in  that  court*  The  time  occupied 
in  this  discussion  was  so  extended  that  the  case  had  to  be  transferred  to 
Chicago  for  trial. 

The  testimony  was  procured,  but  under  the  rulings  of  the  Court  was 
excluded  for  the  main  purpose  for  which  it  was  offered,  but  was  admitted 
for  another  purpose.  We  placed  great  reliance  on  an  elder  patent  to 
establish  the  want  of  novelty  in  the  invention  of  the  plaintiff.  The  case 
was  prosecuted  with  great  zeal  and  ability,  and  the  trial  lasted  for  several 
days.  Mr.  Lincoln  took  a  great  interest  in  the  case.  He  had  tended  a  saw- 
mill for  some  time  and  was  able  in  his  argument  to  explain  the  action  of 
the  water  upon  the  wheel,  in  a  manner  so  clear  and  intelligible  that  the 
jury  was  enabled  to  comprehend  the  points  and  the  line  of  defense.  It  was 
evident  he  had  carried  the  jury  with  him,  in  a  most  masterly  argument 
the  force  of  which  could  not  be  broken  by  the  reply  of  the  opposing  coun- 
sel. But  the  Court  was  evidently  impressed  with  the  conviction  that  the 
plaintiff  should  recover,  and  charged  on  every  material  point  for  the 
plaintiff  and  in  effect  told  the  jury  that  the  prior  patent  on  which  we  so 
much  relied  was  no  defense. 

After  the  jury  had  retired,  Mr.  Lincoln  became  very  anxious  and  un- 
easy. The  jury  was  in  another  building,  the  windows  of  which  opened  on 
the  street.  They  had  been  out  for  some  two  hours.  In  passing  along  the 
street,  one  of  the  jury  on  whom  we  had  very  much  relied,  he  being  a  very 
intelligent  man  and  firm  in  his  convictions,  held  up  to  him  one  finger.  Mr. 
Lincoln  became  very  much  excited,  fearing  it  indicated  that  eleven  of  the 
jury  were  against  him.  He  was  assured  that  if  this  man  was  for  him,  he 
would  never  yield  his  opinion.  He  replied,  if  he  was  like  a  juryman  he 
had  in  Tazewell  County,  the  defendant  was  safe.  That  he  was  there  em- 
ployed to  prosecute  a  suit  for  a  divorce.  His  client  was  a  very  pretty,  re- 
fined, interesting  woman  in  court.  The  defendant  was  a  rotten,  gross, 
morose,  garrulous,  fault-finding,  cross,  and  uncomfortable  person,  en- 
tirely unfitted  for  the  husband  of  such  a  woman.  And  though  he  was  able 
to  prove  the  use  of  very  offensive  and  vulgar  epithets  applied  by  him  to 
his  wife,  and  all  sorts  of  annoyances,  but  no  such  acts  of  personal  violence 
assigned  by  the  statute  to  justify  a  divorce.  He  did  the  best  he  could  and 
appealed  to  the  jury  to  have  compassion  on  the  woman  and  not  bind  her 
to  such  a  man  and  such  a  life  as  awaited  her  as  the  wife  of  such  a  man.  The 
jury  took  about  the  same  view  of  it  in  their  deliberations.  They  desired  to 
find  for  her  but  could  find  no  evidence  which  would  really  justify  a  verdict 
for  her,  and  drew  up  a  verdict  for  the  defendant  and  all  signed  but  one, 


332  THE     HIDDEN    LINCOLN 

who,  when  asked  to  do  so,  said:  "Gentlemen,  I  am  going  to  lie  down  to 
sleep  and  when  you  get  ready  to  give  a  verdict  for  that  woman,  wake  me 
up,  for  before  I  will  give  a  verdict  against  her,  I  will  be  here  until  I  rot 
and  the  pismires  carry  me  out  of  the  keyhole."  "Now/*  said  Mr.  Lincoln, 
"if  that  juryman  will  stick  like  that  man,  we  are  safe." 

In  a  short  time  the  jury  came  in  with  a  verdict  for  the  defendant.  He 
always  regarded  this  as  one  of  the  most  gratifying  triumphs  of  his  pro- 
fessional life.  He  was  afterwards  employed  in  one  or  two  other  patent 
suits,  but  they  never  came  to  a  final  trial.  He  had  a  great  deal  of  mechanical 
genius,  could  understand  readily  the  principles  and  mechanical  action  of 
machinery,  and  had  the  power  in  his  clear  simple  illustrations  and  style  to 
make  the  jury  comprehend  them. 

The  most  important  case  he  ever  had  and  the  one  in  which  his  powers 
were  exhibited  with  most  advantage,  was  the  Rock  Island  Bridge  case. 
Hon.  N.  B.  Judd  was  attorney  in  that  case. 

And  now,  friend  Herndon,  I  have  complied  with  your  request,  imper- 
fectly it  is  true,  but  as  well  as  I  could.  You  will  admit  that,  while  I  say  I 
have  none  but  the  tenderest  feelings  for  you,  you  have  never  given  me 
occasion  to  entertain  any  others.  I  therefore,  as  your  friend,  and  the  friend 
of  Mr,  Lincoln,  propose  to  say  a  few  things,  prompted  by  that  friendship, 
but  which  I  know  the  vanity  of  all  men  rebel  against. 

First,  in  my  opinion  you  are  the  last  man  who  ought  to  attempt  to  write 
a  Life  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  Your  long  and  intimate  association  with  him 
unfits  you  for  the  task.  No  one  holding  the  intimate  relations  to  another 
which  you  did  to  him  ever  has  succeeded.  There  may  be  exceptions,  but  I 
cannot  now  remember  one.  They  are  mere  eulogists,  or  having  known  him, 
in  other  conditions  than  on  those  fields,  those  departments,  where  his  fame 
was  won,  he  regards  and  exhibits  him  in  those  humble  and  different  as- 
pects and  characteristics  in  which  the  public  have  no  taste,  and  which 
bring  him  down  from  the  high  [point?]  of  his  triumphs,  [undeciphered] 
him  down  everyday  affairs  of  life  which  are  stale  and  insipid  to  the  public. 
To  enter  into  the  private  everyday  life  of  ordinary  or  extraordinary  men 
can  only  be  made  endurable  to  readers,  or  safe  to  the  fame  of  the  subject, 
with  the  most  discriminating  taste  and  art;  and  no  one  is  safe  to  under- 
take it,  without  much  practice,  and  knowledge  of  the  public  taste.  Again, 
contact  with  great  men  always  dispels  something  of  the  awe  with  which 
they  are  contemplated  at  a  distance.  In  intimate  association,  we  fix  upon 
some  characteristic  or  peculiarity  and  fail  to  catch  other  lineaments.  We 
can  only  regard  them  as  the  kind  friend,  amusing  companion,  and  gen- 
erous mind.  In  the  distance  we  see  the  bold  outline  of  the  mountain;  its 


I/ETTEBS    TO     HEBNDON  333 

summits  wrapped  in  sunshine,  or  swathed  in  cloud;  when  we  approach 
it,  we  catch  a  view  of  the  deep,  it  may  be  dark  gorges,  the  rugged  cliffs, 
the  lean  rocks,  and  distorted  outlines.  So  in  the  characters  of  our  dearest 
friends.  See  how  Boswell  with  all  his  literary  abilities  failed  in  his  Life  of 
Johnson.  No  blow  so  severe  was  ever  struck  at  Johnson.  Think  of  these 
things. 

If  I  am  to  judge  of  what  your  production  will  be  by  the  publication  of  a 
portion  of  your  Salem  lectures,  I  am  more  solicitous  still.  I  fear  you  did 
not  realize  what  an  injury  and  injustice  you  did  to  the  memory  of  your 
dear  friend  and  mortification  you  caused  his  friends,  but  especially  his 
widow  and  children.  Ask  yourself,  if  he  was  living,  whether  he  would  not 
have  revolted  at  the  uncovering  to  the  public  gaze  that  drama  of  his  life  ? 
And  shall  his  friends  exhibit  what  we  know  he  would  have  preserved  in 
sacred  privacy?  If  the  facts  are  truly  stated,  I  should  as  soon  think  of  ex- 
posing his  dead  body,  uncoffined,  to  the  vulgar  gaze  of  the  public  eye.  It 
should  never  have  been  dug  up  from  the  grave,  when  time  had  buried  it. 

Besides,  your  style  is  not  well  adapted  to  such  an  undertaking.  The  want 
of  practice  is  palpable.  Your  style  is  purely  legal,  such  an  one  as  is  ac- 
quired by  drawing  legal  documents  and  pleadings,  and  is  decidedly  differ- 
ent from  our  form  by  familiarity  with  the  best  writers.  It  is  rugged,  abound- 
ing in  adjectives  and  explications,  full  of  climaxes  and  hard  dry  words.  It 
reads  as  if  it  had  been  jerked  out  word  by  word;  it  gives  one  the  sense  you 
have  in  riding  in  a  lumber  wagon  over  a  frozen  road,  or  the  noise  made  in 
machinery  when  a  cog  has  been  broken. 

Now,  my  friend,  I  have  spoken  plainly,  but  sincerely.  I  may  da  you 
injustice,  but  it  is  not  intentional.  I  may  lose  your  friendship  by  it,  but 
I  have  only  done  what  I  would  wish  one  to  do  to  me  under  the  same  circum- 
stances. And  I  have  observed,  in  myself  and  others,  that  the  very  points 
in  which  strength  is  supposed,  are  the  very  points  of  weakness. 

I  am  yours,  etc., 
GEANT  GOODRICH. 


Springfield,  Itt.9  December  10, 1866. 
Mr.  Goodrich. 
Sir: 

I  thank  you  for  the  first  part  of  your  letter  giving  me  an  account 
of  the  patent  case  which  Mr.  Lincoln  "tended"  to.  I  say  I  thank  you 
for  it.  As  to  the  second  part  of  your  letter,  I  guess  I  shall  have  to 
treat  you  as  Lincoln  always  did  treat  you,  as  an  exceedingly  weak- 


334  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

headed  brother.  The  more  he  kicked  you,  the  closer  you  clung  to  him. 
Do  you  remember?  Analyze  yourself. 

Yours  truly, 
W.  H. 


FROM  J.  H.  LITTLEFIELD 

Washington,  December  11,  1866. 
Respected  Friend: 

I  have  been  trying  very  hard  to  obtain  a  file  of  papers  for  you  but  I  fear 
I  shall  have  to  give  it  up.  (I  had  hoped  to  get  files  owned  by  private  indi- 
viduals.) The  Washington  Star  contains  the  fullest  account  of  the  entry  of 
Mr.  Lincoln  in  the  city  of  Washington  in  1861.  The  gentleman  that  re- 
ported for  it  is  a  friend  of  mine  and  is  entirely  reliable  and  he  says  that 
he  had  an  interview  with  Mr.  Lincoln  when  he  first  arrived  here  in  '61.  It 
will  be  necessary  to  employ  a  person  to  copy  such  parts  of  the  Star  and 
other  papers  as  may  seem  required  for  your  work.  I  would  copy  them  my- 
self but  I  cannot  possibly  find  time,  besides  Mrs.  L.  is  very  sick  with 
pneumonia.  If  it  is  your  wish,  I  will  employ  a  person  to  copy  such  parts  of 
the  Star  and  other  papers  as  you  may  require  at  once.  I  will  state  an 
anecdote  that  came  under  my  observation.  In  1862  there  was  considerable 
said  about  the  Yazoo  River  expedition.  Mr.  Lincoln  one  evening  at  the 
White  House  was  suffering  with  pain  caused  by  the  extraction  of  a  "raging 
tooth/*  Pete  Halstead,  several  others,  and  myself  called  on  Mr.  Lincoln 
and  found  him  out  of  the  room  which  he  generally  occupied.  We  sat  down  in 
the  private  Secretary's  room  and  remained  there  some  minutes  when  Mr. 
Lincoln,  hearing  our  voices,  came  in  and  sat  down  (just  as  he  used  to  in 
the  office  in  Springfield),  and  notwithstanding  the  pain  that  afflicted  him, 
chatted  humorously  with  here  and  there  a  flash  of  real  logic  that  showed 
that  he  comprehended  the  situation.  The  Yazoo  River  expedition  received 
his  attention  ;  he  said  by  the  way  of  preamble  that  he  found  it  necessary  to 
yield  here  a  little  and  there  a  little  in  order  to  keep  peace  in  the  family  and 
that  if  he  interfered  in  a  plan  that  was  not  essential,  vital,  the  West 
Pointers,  i.e.,  the  regular  officers  who  had  the  execution  of  all  plans,  would 
in  some  way  or  other  obstruct  or  defeat  the  execution  of  his  scheme  ;  there- 
fore, inasmuch  as  they  had  to  be  depended  upon  at  last,  he  found  it  best  to 
trust  them  at  first  and  rely  on  events  and  the  power  of  persuasion  to  rectify 
errors.  In  regard  to  the  Yazoo  River  expedition,  he  said  (pointing  to  the 
map  ;  this  was  a  large  map  which  hung  in  his  room  which  he  often  referred 
to)  :  "How  can  a  force  go  down  a  river  that  is  only  a  few  rods  wide  when 
it  cannot  get  down  a  river  that  is  a  mile  wide?  And  if  it  could,  it  would 


LETTERS    TO     HEBNDOH  335 

only  wind  about  and  come  out  into  the  same  river  that  it  is  contended  by 
the  military  officers  you  cannot  pursue — the  Mississippi — and  for  this 
reason  you  wish  to  leave  the  Mississippi  about  Vicksburg.  This  expedition 
proposes  to  follow  the  Yazoo  and  come  out  in  the  Mississippi.  What  have 
you  accomplished  ?  You  have  gained  nothing.  I  can't  better  make  this  clear 
than  by  relating  an  incident  that  came  under  my  own  observation.  There 
was  a  man  in  Illinois  a  good  many  years  since  that  was  troubled  with  an 
old  sow  and  her  pigs ;  again  and  again  the  old  man  and  his  sons  drove  her 
out  and  repeatedly  found  her  in  the  lot.  One  day  he  and  his  boys  searched 
about  and  found  that  she  got  into  the  lot  through  a  certain  hollow  log  that 
had  been  placed  in  the  fence ;  they  took  out  this  log  and  built  up  the  fence 
by  placing  the  log  a  little  differently  than  before,  and  the  next  day,  what 
was  the  astonishment  of  the  old  lady  to  find  that  she  and  her  litter  came  out 
of  the  log  outside  of  the  field  instead  of  inside.  It  is  just  so  with  the  Yazoo 
River  expedition/'  said  Mr.  L.  "It  comes  out  of  the  same  side  of  the  log." 
This  little  story,  it  seems  to  me,  illustrates  the  fact  that  Mr.  L.  compre- 
hended military  problems  far  better  than  was  generally  supposed.  I  will 
endeavor  from  time  to  time  to  arrange  little  incidents  that  I  was  an  eye- 
witness of,  or  collect  such  anecdotes  that  have  not  yet  been  published  as 
may  seem  to  be  of  some  service  to  you.  If  you  should  desire  to  have  a  faith- 
ful likeness  engraved  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  I  may  be  of  some  service.  I  am  now 
painting  General  Grant  in  oil  and  expect  to  publish  his  picture  in  pure  line 
engraving,  the  head  of  which  will  be  six  inches  long.  I  expect  also  to 
paint  a  life-size  head  of  Mr.  Lincoln  which  I  will  have  engraved  if  I  can 
bring  it  about.  It  is  quite  doubtful  if  there  is  a  living  artist  that  has  such 
varied  and  serviceable  remembrances  of  the  good  man  as  your  humble 
servant.  When  your  book  is  ready  for  publication,  I  may  put  you  on  track 
of  good  houses  in  New  York  or  elsewhere.  Please  write  me  at  your  earliest 
convenience,  and  if  you  desire  it,  I  will  set  a  man  to  copying  the  points  you 
require  at  once.  I  should  esteem  it  a  great  favor  if  you  would  favor  me  with 
a  copy  of  your  lecture  on  the  courtship^  etc.,  of  Mr.  Lincoln. 

Affectionately  yours, 

J.    H.    LlTTLBFIELD. 


FROM  HENRY  WILSON 

Natick,  Mass.,  May  SO,  1867. 
My  dear  Sir : 

In  looking  over  my  papers,  I  find  a  letter  of  yours  of  the  20th  of  August 
last  requesting  me  to  give  you  my  ideas  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  character  as  a  man 


336  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

and  a  public  officer.  With  this  letter,  I  find  another  letter  of  yours  dated 
December  21,  I860,  in  answer  to  a  letter  of  mine  asking  you  to  give  me 
your  opinion  of  the  President  just  elected.  In  this  letter  to  me  you  say  of 
Mr.  Lincoln  what  more  than  four  years  of  observation  confirmed.  After 
stating  that  you  had  been  his  law  partner  for  sixteen  years,  and  his  most 
intimate  and  bosom  friend  all  that  time,  you  say:  "I  know  him  better  than 
he  does  himself.  I  know  this  seems  a  lie/  but  I  will  risk  the  assertion. 
Mr.  Lincoln  is  a  man  of  heart,  was  as  gentle  as  a  woman's  and  as  tender, 
but  he  has  a  will  as  strong  as  iron.  He  therefore  loves  all  mankind,  hates 
slavery,  every  form  of  despotism.  Put  these  together — love  for  the  slave 
and  a  determination,  a  will,  that  justice,  strong  and  unyielding,  shall  be 
done,  where  he  has  got  a  right  to  act — and  you  can  form  your  own  con- 
clusion. Lincoln  will  fail  here;  namely,  if  a  question  of  political  economy, 
if  any  question,  comes  up  which  is  doubtful,  questionable,  which  no  man 
can  demonstrate,  then  his  friends  can  rule  him;  but  when  on  justice,  right, 
liberty,  the  government  and  Constitution,  Union,  humanity,  then  you  may 
all  stand  aside ;  he  will  rule  them  and  no  man  can  move  him,  no  set  of  men 
can.  There  is  no  fail  here.  This  is  Lincoln,  and  you  mark  what  I  say.  You 
and  I  must  keep  the  people  right;  God  will  keep  Lincoln  right.  Don't  you 
fear,  Mr.  Wilson;  I  have  conversations  with  him,  but  am  not  authorized 
to  speak." 

These  words  of  yours  made  a  deep  impression  upon  my  mind,  and  I  came 
to  love  and  trust  him  even  before  I  saw  him.  After  an  acquaintance  of  more 
than  four  years,  I  found  that  your  idea  of  him  was  in  all  respects  correct, 
that  he  was  the  loving,  tender,  firm,  and  just  man  you  represented  him  to 
be,  while  upon  some  questions  in  which  moral  elements  did  not  so  clearly 
enter  he  was,  perhaps,  too  easily  influenced  by  others.  As  Chairman  of  the 
Military  Committee,  I  had  nearly  fifteen  thousand  nominations  of  his  to 
act  upon  and  was  often  consulted  by  him  in  regard  to  nominations,  and  also 
the  legislation  for  the  army,  and  I  had  the  best  opportunity  to  see  him 
under  all  circumstances.  I  saw  him  often  under  the  most  trying  circum- 
stances at  the  War  Department  by  day,  and  by  night  too,  and  I  had  the 
best  possible  opportunities  to  study  and  judge  him,  and  I  can  truly  say 
that  your  description  of  this  loving,  tender,  true,  just  man  was  a  correct 
one. 

Mr.  Lincoln  was  a  genuine  democrat  in  feeling,  sentiment,  and  action. 
How  patiently  and  considerately  he  listened,  amid  the  terrible  pressure 
of  public  affairs,  to  the  people  that  thronged  his  ante-room.  I  remember 
calling  upon  him  one  day  during  the  war  on  pressing  business.  The  ante- 
room was  crowded  with  men  and  women  seeking  admission.  He  seemed 
oppressed,  care-worn,  weary.  I  said  to  him:  "Mr.  President,  you  are  too 


LETTERS     TO     HEENDON  337 

exhausted  to  see  this  throng  waiting  to  see  you,  you  will  wear  yourself  out, 
and  you  ought  not  to  see  these  people  today."  He  replied  with  one  of  those 
smiles  in  which  sadness  seemed  to  mingle:  "They  don't  want  much  and 
they  don't  get  but  little,  and  I  must  see  them." 

During  the  war  his  heart  was  oppressed  and  his  life  burdened  with  the 
conflict  between  the  tenderness  of  his  nature  and  what  seemed  to  be  the 
imperative  demands  of  duty.  In  the  darkest  hours  of  the  conflict  desertions 
were  frequent,  and  army  officers  urgently  pressed  the  execution  of  the 
sentence  of  the  law,  but  it  was  with  the  greatest  effort  he  would  bring  him- 
self to  consent  to  the  execution  of  the  judgments  of  the  military  tribunals. 
I  remember  walking  early  one  Sabbath  morning  with  a  wounded  Irish 
officer  who  came  to  Washington  to  say  that  a  soldier  who  had  been 
sentenced  to  be  shot  in  a  day  or  two  for  desertion  had  fought  bravely  by 
his  side  in  battle.  I  told  him  that  we  had  come  to  ask  him  to  pardon  the 
poor  soldier.  After  a  few  moments'  reflection  he  said:  "My  officers  tell  me 
the  good  of  the  service  demands  the  enforcement  of  the  law,  but  it  makes 
my  heart  ache  to  have  this  poor  boy  shot.  I  will  pardon  him,  and  then  you 
will  join  in  blaming  me  for  it.  You  all  censure  me  for  granting  pardons, 
and  yet  you  all  ask  me  to  do  so."  No  man  ever  had  a  more  loving  and 
tender  nature  than  Mr.  Lincoln. 

He  was,  as  you  say,  a  firm  man  where  he  clearly  saw  duty,  but  most 
earnest,  devoted,  and  ablest  friends  in  and  out  of  Congress  pressed  him 
for  months  to  issue  a  declaration  of  emancipation,  but  he  could  not  be 
coaxed  nor  driven  into  action  till  he  saw  the  time  had  come  to  do  it.  His 
firmness  was  again  tried  after  he  wrote  the  letter  to  Mr.  Clay  and  other 
rebels  in  Canada,  the  time  of  Mr.  Greeley's  mission.  Our  timid  politicians 
were  alarmed.  The  Democratic  Convention  at  Chicago  was  about  to  meet. 
Some  of  our  most  active  men  hurried  on  to  Washington  to  induce  him  to 
write  another  letter  modifying  the  other.  Learning  this,  I  hurried  to 
Washington,  saw  these  timid  leaders  about  the  White  House,  and  made  an 
appointment  in  the  evening  with  Mr.  Lincoln.  When  the  time  came,  I  said 
to  him  that  I  had  come  to  Washington  to  say  to  him  that  I  believed  it  would 
be  fatal  to  us  if  he  qualified  his  letter,  that  the  letter  would  be  great 
strength  in  the  canvass,  that  it  had  given  great  confidence  to  the  anti- 
slavery  men,  and  they  would  determine  the  result.  He  spoke  of  the  pressure 
upon  him,  of  the  condition  of  the  country,  of  the  possible  action  of  the 
coming  Democratic  Convention,  and  of  the  uncertainty  of  the  election,  in 
tones  of  sadness.  After  discussing  for  a  long  time  these  matters,  he  said 
with  great  calmness  and  firmness :  "I  do  not  know  what  the  result  may  be, 
we  may  be  defeated,  we  may  fail,  but  we  will  go  down  with  our  principles. 
I  will  not  modify,  qualify,  nor  retract  my  proclamation,  nor  my  letter."  I 


338  THE     HIDDEN 

can  never  forget  his  measured  tones,  nor  words,  nor  cease  to  feel  that  his 
firmness,  amid  the  pressure  of  active  friends,  saved  our  cause  in  1864, 

Yours  truly, 
HENRY  WILSON. 


FROM  LEONARD  SWETT 

Chicago,  III.,  August  29,  1887. 
My  dear  Sir: 

Your  inquiry  in  reference  to  the  circumstances  of  the  appointment  of 
David  Davis,  as  one  of  the  Justices  of  the  Supreme  Court,  reached  me  last 
evening.  In  reply  I  beg  leave  to  recall  the  fact  that,  in  1860,  the  politicians 
of  Illinois  were  divided  into  three  divisions,  which  were  represented  in  the 
Decatur  Convention  by  the  votes  on  the  nomination  for  Governor.  The 
largest  vote  was  for  Norman  B.  Judd,  of  Chicago,  his  strength  in  the  main 
being  the  northern  part  of  the  State.  I  was  next  in  order  of  strength,  and 
Yates  the  third,  but  the  divisions  were  not  materially  unequal.  The  result 
was,  Yates  was  nominated,  Yates's  strength  being  about  Springfield  and 
Jacksonville,  extending  to  Quincy  on  the  west,  and  mine  was  at  Blooming- 
ton  and  vicinity,  and  south  and  southeast. 

These  divisions  were  kept  up  awhile  after  Mr.  Lincoln's  election  and 
were  considered  in  the  distribution  of  Federal  patronage.  A  vacancy  in  the 
United  States  Senate  occurred  early  in  1861  by  the  death  of  Stephen  A. 
Douglas,  and  Governor  Yates  appointed  O.  H.  Browning  of  Quincy  to  fill 
the  vacancy.  There  was  also  a  vacancy  upon  the  Supreme  bench  of  the 
United  States  to  be  filled  from  this  general  vicinity  by  Mr.  Lincoln  in  the 
early  part  of  his  administration,  and  Judge  Davis  of  Bloomington,  and  Mr. 
Browning  of  Quincy,  were  both  aspirants  for  the  position.  Mr.  Browning 
had  the  advantage  that  Lincoln  was  new  in  his  seat,  and  Senators  were 
august  personages,  and,  being  in  the  Senate,  and  a  most  courteous  and  able 
gentleman,  Mr.  Browning  succeeded  in  securing  nearly  all  the  Senatorial 
strength,  and  Mr.  Lincoln  was  nearly  swept  off  his  feet  by  the  current  of 
influence.  Davis's  supporters  were  the  circuit  court  lawyers,  mainly  in  the 
eastern  and  central  part  of  the  State.  These  lawyers  were  at  home,  and 
their  presence  was  not  a  living  force  felt  constantly  by  the  President  at 
Washington. 

I  was  then  living  at  Bloomington  and  met  Judge  Davis  every  day.  As 
months  elapsed,  we  used  to  get  word  from  Washington  in  reference  to  the 
condition  of  things ;  finally  one  day  the  word  came  that  Mr.  Lincoln  had 
said:  "I  do  not  know  what  I  may  do  when  the  time  comes,  but  there  has 


LETTERS     TO     HERN DON  339 

never  been  a  day  when,  if  I  had  to  act  then,  I  should  not  have  appointed 
Mr.  Browning." 

Judge  Davis,  General  Orme,  and  myself  held  a  consultation  in  my  law 
office  at  Bloomington ;  we  decided  that  the  remark  was  too  Lincolnian  to  be 
mistaken,  and  no  man  but  he  could  have  put  the  situation  so  quaintly.  We 
decided  also  that  the  appointment  was  gone  and  sat  there  glum  over  the 
situation.  I  finally  broke  the  silence,  saying  in  substance:  "The  appoint- 
ment is  gone ;  I  am  going  home  to  pack  my  carpet-sacks  for  Washington." 
"No,  you  are  not,"  said  Davis.  "Yes,  I  am,"  was  my  reply,  "Lincoln  is  be- 
ing swept  off  his  feet  by  the  influence  of  these  Senators  and  I  will  have  the 
luxury  of  one  talk  with  him  before  he  acts." 

I  did  go  home,  and  two  days  thereafter,  in  the  morning  about  seven 
o'clock,  for  I  knew  Mr.  Lincoln's  habits  well,  was  at  the  door  of  his  room 
at  the  White  House  and  spent  most  of  the  forenoon  with  him.  I  tried  to  im- 
press upon  him  that  he  had  been  brought  into  prominence  by  the  circuit 
court  lawyers  of  the  old  Eighth  Circuit,  headed  by  Judge  Davis.  "If  Judge 
Davis  with  his  tact  and  his  force  had  not  lived,  and  all  other  things  had 
been  as  they  were,  I  believe  you  would  not  be  sitting  now  where  you  are 
sitting."  He  replied:  "I  guess  that  is  so."  "Now,"  I  said,  "it  is  the  common 
law  of  mankind  that  one  raised  into  prominence  is  expected  to  recognize 
the  force  that  lifts  him,  or,  if  from  a  pinch,  the  force  that  lets  him  out.  The 
Czair  Nicholas  was  once  attacked  by  an  assassin,  a  kindly  hand  warded  off 
the  blow  and  saved  his  life.  The  Czar  hunted  out  the  owner  of  that  hand 
and  strewed  his  pathway  with  flowers  through  life.  The  Emperor  Napo- 
leon III  has  hunted  out  everybody  who  even  tossed  him  a  biscuit  in  his 
prison  at  Ham,  and  has  made  him  rich.  Here  is  Judge  Davis,  whom  you 
know  to  be  in  every  respect  qualified  for  this  position,  and  you  ought  in 
justice  to  yourself  and  public  expectation  to  give  him  this  place."  We  had 
an  earnest  pleasant  forenoon,  and  I  thought  I  had  the  best  of  the  argument 
and  I  think  he  thought  so  too. 

I  left  him  and  went  to  Willard's  Hotel  to  think  over  the  interview,  and 
there  a  new  thought  struck  me.  I  therefore  wrote  a  letter  to  Mr.  Lincoln 
and  returned  to  the  White  House.  Getting  in,  I  read  it  to  him  and  left  it 
with  him.  It  was  in  substance  that  he  might  think,  if  he  gave  Davis  this- 
place,  he,  when  he  got  to  Washington,  would  not  give  him  any  peace  until 
he  gave  me  a  place  equally  good.  That  I  recognized  the  fact  that  he  could 
not  give  this  place  to  Davis,  which  would  be  charged  to  the  Bloomington 
faction  in  our  State  politics,  and  then  give  me  anything — I  would  have  [  to] 
be  just  to  the  party  there;  that  this  appointment,  if  made,  should  "kill  two 
birds  with  one  stone" ;  that  I  would  accept  it  as  one-half  for  me,  and  one- 
half  for  the  judge;  and  after  that,  if  I  or  any  of  my  friends  ever  troubled 


340  THE     HIDDEN     LINCOLN 

him,  he  could  draw  that  letter  as  a  plea  in  bar,  on  that  subject.  As  I  read  it, 
Lincoln  said:  "If  you  mean  that  among  friends,  as  it  reads,  I  will  take  it 
and  make  the  appointment/' 

He  then  made  a  request  of  the  judge  after  his  appointment,  in  reference 
to  continuance  of  a  clerk  in  his  circuit,  and  wrote  to  him  a  notice  of  the 
appointment  which  he  received  the  same  afternoon  I  returned  to  Blooming- 
ton.  Judge  Davis  was  about  fifteen  years  my  senior.  I  had  come  to  his  circuit 
at  the  age  of  twenty-four,  and  between  him  and  Lincoln  I  had  grown  up, 
leaning  in  hours  of  weakness  on  their  own  great  arms  for  support.  I  was 
glad  of  the  opportunity  to  put  in  the  mite  of  my  claims  upon  Lincoln  and 
give  it  to  Davis  and  have  been  glad  I  did  it  every  day  since. 

An  unknown  number  of  people  have  almost  every  week  since,  speaking 
perhaps  extravagantly,  asked  me  in  a  quasi-confidential  manner,  how  was 
it  that  you  and  Lincoln  were  so  intimate  and  he  never  gave  you  anything? 
I  have  generally  said:  "It  seems  to  me  that  is  my  question,  and  so  long  as 
I  don't  complain  I  do  not  see  why  you  should."  I  may  be  pardoned  also  for 
saying  that  I  have  not  considered  every  man  not  holding  an  office  out  of 
place  in  life.  I  got  my  eyes  open  on  this  subj  ect  before  I  got  an  office,  and 
as  in  Washington  I  saw  the  Congressman  in  decline,  I  prayed  that  my  lat- 
ter end  might  not  be  like  his. 

Yours  truly, 

LEONARD  SWETT. 

FROM  CHARLES  FRIEND 

Sonora,  Ky.f  July  81, 1889. 
Dear  Sir: 

While  living  in  Hodgenville  there  came  a  man  from  Illinois  who  said 
that  it  was  reported  in  that  State  that  Abe  Enloe  was  Abe  Lincoln's  father. 
I  heard  the  question  put  to  old  Uncle  Abe  Enloe  by  my  brother-in-law  Mr. 
A.  H,  Redman.  There  was  another  gentleman  present,  Dr.  W.  H.  Holt. 
Redman  asked  if  it  was  true  that  he,  Abe  Enloe,  was  Abe's  father.  The  old 
man  drew  himself  up  to  his  full  height — some  six  feet  three  inches — and 
stroked  his  long  white  beard  and  remarked  that  it  was  an  honor  to  be  proud 
of  to  even  to  be  thought  to  be  the  father  of  a  President  and  one  that  had 
risen  by  his  own  merits  to  hold  the  proud  position  of  President  of  these 
United  States.  "But,"  said  he,  "I  was  only  fifteen  years  old  when  Abe  was 
born."  "Then,"  said  Redman,  "you  could  not  have  been,  being  at  that  time 
only  fourteen  years  old  when  he  was  begotten."  "Now,"  said  Uncle  Abe, 
"not  too  fast,  for  I  passed  into  puberty  at  fourteen  years  and  could  have 
been  his  father  at  that  age  as  easily  as  at  any  time  from  that  until  the  pres- 


LETTERS     TO     HEB.NDON  341 

ent  moment.  Now  to  set  the  matter  forever  at  rest,  I  will  say  I  never  put  my 
hand  on  her  naked  flesh  on  any  part  of  her  body  save  her  hands,  and  never 
in  my  life  had  carnal  intercourse  with  her.  And  further,  I  believe  that  he 
was  the  son  of  Thomas  Lincoln.  I  think  all  this  grew  out  of  his  name  being 
the  same  as  mine,  but  I  can  account  for  that  name;  his  grandfather  was 
named  Abraham  Lincoln.  The  grandfather  was  killed  by  the  Indians  on 
Salt  River  not  far  from  where  now  stands  Shepherds ville  at  an  old  salt 
works.  I  will  further  sa